A Novel Automated Platform for Quantifying the Extent of Skeletal Tumour Involvement in Prostate Cancer Patients Using the Bone Scan Index

David Ulmert, Reza Kaboteh, Josef J. Fox, Caroline Savage, Michael J. Evans, Hans Lilja, Per-Anders Abrahamsson, Thomas Björk, Axel Gerdtsson, Anders Bjartell, Peter Gjertsson, Peter Höglund, Milan Lomsky, Mattias Ohlsson, Jens Richter, May Sadik, Michael J. Morris, Howard I. Scher, Karl Sjöstrand, Alice YuMadis Suurküla, Lars Edenbrandt, Steven M. Larson

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    There is little consensus on a standard approach to analysing bone scan images. The Bone Scan Index (BSI) is predictive of survival in patients with progressive prostate cancer (PCa), but the popularity of this metric is hampered by the tedium of the manual calculation.

    Develop a fully automated method of quantifying the BSI and determining the clinical value of automated BSI measurements beyond conventional clinical and pathologic features. Design, setting, and participantsWe conditioned a computer-assisted diagnosis system identifying metastatic lesions on a bone scan to automatically compute BSI measurements. A training group of 795 bone scans was used in the conditioning process. Independent validation of the method used bone scans obtained ≤3 mo from diagnosis of 384 PCa cases in two large population-based cohorts. An experienced analyser (blinded to case identity, prior BSI, and outcome) scored the BSI measurements twice. We measured prediction of outcome using pretreatment Gleason score, clinical stage, and prostate-specific antigen with models that also incorporated either manual or automated BSI measurements. MeasurementsThe agreement between methods was evaluated using Pearson's correlation coefficient. Discrimination between prognostic models was assessed using the concordance index (C-index).

    Results and limitations
    Manual and automated BSI measurements were strongly correlated (ρ=0.80), correlated more closely (ρ=0.93) when excluding cases with BSI scores ≥10 (1.8%), and were independently associated with PCa death (p<0.0001 for each) when added to the prediction model. Predictive accuracy of the base model (C-index: 0.768; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.702–0.837) increased to 0.794 (95% CI, 0.727–0.860) by adding manual BSI scoring, and increased to 0.825 (95% CI, 0.754–0.881) by adding automated BSI scoring to the base model. ConclusionsAutomated BSI scoring, with its 100% reproducibility, reduces turnaround time, eliminates operator-dependent subjectivity, and provides important clinical information comparable to that of manual BSI scoring.

    We developed and evaluated the first unbiased, fully automated software system to systematically calculate skeletal tumour burden in patients with metastatic cancer in the bone, simplifying a valuable but cumbersome technology with shortcomings that had prevented its widespread clinical use.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Urology
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)78-84
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Bone Scan Index
    • Image analysis
    • Radionuclide imaging
    • Bone metastases
    • Computer assisted diagnosis
    • Automated detection
    • Automated quantification
    • Risk prediction


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