SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, vol.12, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
This study aims to generate and also validate an automatic detection algorithm for pharyngeal airway on CBCT data using an AI software (Diagnocat) which will procure a measurement method. The second aim is to validate the newly developed artificial intelligence system in comparison to commercially available software for 3D CBCT evaluation. A Convolutional Neural Network-based machine learning algorithm was used for the segmentation of the pharyngeal airways in OSA and non-OSA patients. Radiologists used semi-automatic software to manually determine the airway and their measurements were compared with the AI. OSA patients were classified as minimal, mild, moderate, and severe groups, and the mean airway volumes of the groups were compared. The narrowest points of the airway (mm), the field of the airway (mm(2)), and volume of the airway (cc) of both OSA and non-OSA patients were also compared. There was no statistically significant difference between the manual technique and Diagnocat measurements in all groups (p > 0.05). Inter-class correlation coefficients were 0.954 for manual and automatic segmentation, 0.956 for Diagnocat and automatic segmentation, 0.972 for Diagnocat and manual segmentation. Although there was no statistically significant difference in total airway volume measurements between the manual measurements, automatic measurements, and DC measurements in non-OSA and OSA patients, we evaluated the output images to understand why the mean value for the total airway was higher in DC measurement. It was seen that the DC algorithm also measures the epiglottis volume and the posterior nasal aperture volume due to the low soft-tissue contrast in CBCT images and that leads to higher values in airway volume measurement.