Objective: To develop a practical method to rapidly utilize a deep learning model to automatically extract image features based on a small number of SPECT brain perfusion images in general clinics to objectively evaluate Alzheimer's disease (AD). Methods: For the properties of low cost and convenient access in general clinics, Tc-99-ECD SPECT imaging data in brain perfusion detection was used in this study for AD detection. Two-stage transfer learning based on the Inception v3 network model was performed using the ImageNet dataset and ADNI database. To improve training accuracy, the three-dimensional image was reorganized into three sets of two-dimensional images for data augmentation and ensemble learning. The effect of pre-training parameters for Tc-99m-ECD SPECT image to distinguish AD from normal cognition (NC) was investigated, as well as the effect of the sample size of F-18-FDG PET images used in pre-training. The same model was also fine-tuned for the prediction of the MMSE score from the Tc-99m-ECD SPECT image. Results: The AUC values of w/wo pre-training parameters for Tc-99m-ECD SPECT image to distinguish AD from NC were 0.86 and 0.90. The sensitivity, specificity, precision, accuracy, and F1 score were 100%, 75%, 76%, 86%, and 86%, respectively for the training model with 1000 cases of F-18-FDG PET image for pre-training. The AUC values for various sample sizes of the training dataset (100, 200, 400, 800, 1000 cases) for pre-training were 0.86, 0.91, 0.95, 0.97, and 0.97. Regardless of the pre-training condition ECD dataset used, the AUC value was greater than 0.85. Finally, predicting cognitive scores and MMSE scores correlated (R2 = 0.7072). Conclusions: With the ADNI pre-trained model, the sensitivity and accuracy of the proposed deep learning model using SPECT ECD perfusion images to differentiate AD from NC were increased by approximately 30% and 10%, respectively. Our study indicated that the model trained on PET FDG metabolic imaging for the same disease could be transferred to a small sample of SPECT cerebral perfusion images. This model will contribute to the practicality of SPECT cerebral perfusion images using deep learning technology to objectively recognize AD.
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