Computer aided diagnosis

Last revised by Francis Deng on 4 Oct 2019

Computer aided diagnosis (CAD) is the use of a computer generated output as an assisting tool for a clinician to make a diagnosis. It is different from automated computer diagnosis, in which the end diagnosis is based on a computer algorithm only.

As an early form of artificial intelligence, computer aided diagnosis systems have been used extensively within radiology for many years 1-3. The most common applications are for detection of breast cancer on mammography and of pulmonary nodules on chest CT 3. These systems traditionally relied on manual feature engineering based on domain knowledge, but newer approaches are employing machine learning to discover latent features within imaging data.

The term is often used broadly for both computer-aided detection and computer-aided diagnosis 3:

  • computer-aided detection (CADe): marks specific areas of images that may seem abnormal, designed to reduce the risk of missing pathologies of interest
  • computer-aided diagnosis (CADx): helps a practitioner assess and classify pathology in medical images

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