Deep learning based ultrasound analysis facilitates precise distinction between parotid pleomorphic adenoma and Warthin tumor

Xi Hui Liu, Yi Yi Miao, Lang Qian, Zhao Ting Shi, Yu Wang, Jiong Long Su, Cai Chang, Jia Ying Chen*, Jian Gang Chen*, Jia Wei Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Pleomorphic adenoma (PA), often with the benign-like imaging appearances similar to Warthin tumor (WT), however, is a potentially malignant tumor with a high recurrence rate. It is worse that pathological fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is difficult to distinguish PA and WT for inexperienced pathologists. This study employed deep learning (DL) technology, which effectively utilized ultrasound images, to provide a reliable approach for discriminating PA from WT. Methods: 488 surgically confirmed patients, including 266 with PA and 222 with WT, were enrolled in this study. Two experienced ultrasound physicians independently evaluated all images to differentiate between PA and WT. The diagnostic performance of preoperative FNAC was also evaluated. During the DL study, all ultrasound images were randomly divided into training (70%), validation (20%), and test (10%) sets. Furthermore, ultrasound images that could not be diagnosed by FNAC were also randomly allocated to training (60%), validation (20%), and test (20%) sets. Five DL models were developed to classify ultrasound images as PA or WT. The robustness of these models was assessed using five-fold cross-validation. The Gradient-weighted Class Activation Mapping (Grad-CAM) technique was employed to visualize the region of interest in the DL models. Results: In Grad-CAM analysis, the DL models accurately identified the mass as the region of interest. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of the two ultrasound physicians were 0.351 and 0.598, and FNAC achieved an AUROC of only 0.721. Meanwhile, for DL models, the AUROC value for discriminating between PA and WT in the test set was from 0.828 to 0.908. ResNet50 demonstrated the optimal performance with an AUROC of 0.908, an accuracy of 0.833, a sensitivity of 0.736, and a specificity of 0.904. In the test set of cases that FNAC failed to provide a diagnosis, DenseNet121 demonstrated the optimal performance with an AUROC of 0.897, an accuracy of 0.806, a sensitivity of 0.789, and a specificity of 0.824. Conclusion: For the discrimination of PA and WT, DL models are superior to ultrasound and FNAC, thereby facilitating surgeons in making informed decisions regarding the most appropriate surgical approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1337631
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Warthin tumor
  • deep learning
  • diagnosis
  • pleomorphic adenoma
  • ultrasound


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