IRENEX: A clinically informed decision support system for the interpretation of 99mTc-MAG3 scans to detect renal obstruction

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Decision support systems for imaging analysis and interpretation are rapidly being developed and will have an increasing impact on the practice of medicine. RENEX is a renal expert system to assist physicians evaluate suspected obstruction in patients undergoing mercaptoacetyltriglycine (MAG3) renography. RENEX uses quantitative parameters extracted from the dynamic renal scan data using QuantEM™II and heuristic rules in the form of a knowledge base gleaned from experts to determine if a kidney is obstructed; however, RENEX does not have access to and could not consider the clinical information available to diagnosticians interpreting these studies. We designed and implemented a methodology to incorporate clinical information into RENEX, implemented motion detection and evaluated this new comprehensive system (iRENEX) in a pilot group of 51 renal patients. Methods: To reach a conclusion as to whether a kidney is obstructed, 56 new clinical rules were added to the previously reported 60 rules used to interpret quantitative MAG3 parameters. All the clinical rules were implemented after iRENEX reached a conclusion on obstruction based on the quantitative MAG3 parameters, and the evidence of obstruction was then modified by the new clinical rules. iRENEX consisted of a library to translate parameter values to certainty factors, a knowledge base with 116 heuristic interpretation rules, a forward chaining inference engine to determine obstruction and a justification engine. A clinical database was developed containing patient histories and imaging report data obtained from the hospital information system associated with the pertinent MAG3 studies. The system was fine-tuned and tested using a pilot group of 51 patients (21 men, mean age 58.2 ± 17.1 years, 100 kidneys) deemed by an expert panel to have 61 unobstructed and 39 obstructed kidneys. Results: iRENEX, using only quantitative MAG3 data agreed with the expert panel in 87 % (34/39) of obstructed and 90 % (55/61) of unobstructed kidneys. iRENEX, using both quantitative and clinical data agreed with the expert panel in 95 % (37/39) of obstructed and 92 % (56/61) of unobstructed kidneys. The clinical information significantly (p < 0.001) increased iRENEX certainty in detecting obstruction over using the quantitative data alone. Conclusion: Our renal expert system for detecting renal obstruction has been substantially expanded to incorporate the clinical information available to physicians as well as advanced quality control features and was shown to interpret renal studies in a pilot group at a standardized expert level. These encouraging results warrant a prospective study in a large population of patients with and without renal obstruction to establish the diagnostic performance of iRENEX. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Garcia EV; Taylor A; Folks R; Manatunga D; Halkar R; Savir-Baruch B; Dubovsky E
  • Start Page

  • 1483
  • End Page

  • 1491
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 9