Natural Language Processing Model for Identifying Critical Findings—A Multi-Institutional Study

Imon Banerjee, Melissa A. Davis, Brianna L. Vey, Sina Mazaheri, Fiza Khan, Vaz Zavaletta, Roger Gerard, Judy Wawira Gichoya, Bhavik Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improving detection and follow-up of recommendations made in radiology reports is a critical unmet need. The long and unstructured nature of radiology reports limits the ability of clinicians to assimilate the full report and identify all the pertinent information for prioritizing the critical cases. We developed an automated NLP pipeline using a transformer-based ClinicalBERT++ model which was fine-tuned on 3 M radiology reports and compared against the traditional BERT model. We validated the models on both internal hold-out ED cases from EUH as well as external cases from Mayo Clinic. We also evaluated the model by combining different sections of the radiology reports. On the internal test set of 3819 reports, the ClinicalBERT++ model achieved 0.96 f1-score while the BERT also achieved the same performance using the reason for exam and impression sections. However, ClinicalBERT++ outperformed BERT on the external test dataset of 2039 reports and achieved the highest performance for classifying critical finding reports (0.81 precision and 0.54 recall). The ClinicalBERT++ model has been successfully applied to large-scale radiology reports from 5 different sites. Automated NLP system that can analyze free-text radiology reports, along with the reason for the exam, to identify critical radiology findings and recommendations could enable automated alert notifications to clinicians about the need for clinical follow-up. The clinical significance of our proposed model is that it could be used as an additional layer of safeguard to clinical practice and reduce the chance of important findings reported in a radiology report is not overlooked by clinicians as well as provide a way to retrospectively track large hospital databases for evaluating the documentation of the critical findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-113
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Digital Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Science Applications


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