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NPJ Digit Med. 2023 Sep 27;6(1):180. doi: 10.1038/s41746-023-00914-8.


Skin diseases affect one-third of the global population, posing a major healthcare burden. Deep learning may optimise healthcare workflows through processing skin images via neural networks to make predictions. A focus of deep learning research is skin lesion triage to detect cancer, but this may not translate to the wider scope of >2000 other skin diseases. We searched for studies applying deep learning to skin images, excluding benign/malignant lesions (1/1/2000-23/6/2022, PROSPERO CRD42022309935). The primary outcome was accuracy of deep learning algorithms in disease diagnosis or severity assessment. We modified QUADAS-2 for quality assessment. Of 13,857 references identified, 64 were included. The most studied diseases were acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, vitiligo, urticaria. Deep learning algorithms had high specificity and variable sensitivity in diagnosing these conditions. Accuracy of algorithms in diagnosing acne (median 94%, IQR 86-98; n = 11), rosacea (94%, 90-97; n = 4), eczema (93%, 90-99; n = 9) and psoriasis (89%, 78-92; n = 8) was high. Accuracy for grading severity was highest for psoriasis (range 93-100%, n = 2), eczema (88%, n = 1), and acne (67-86%, n = 4). However, 59 (92%) studies had high risk-of-bias judgements and 62 (97%) had high-level applicability concerns. Only 12 (19%) reported participant ethnicity/skin type. Twenty-four (37.5%) evaluated the algorithm in an independent dataset, clinical setting or prospectively. These data indicate potential of deep learning image analysis in diagnosing and monitoring common skin diseases. Current research has important methodological/reporting limitations. Real-world, prospectively-acquired image datasets with external validation/testing will advance deep learning beyond the current experimental phase towards clinically-useful tools to mitigate rising health and cost impacts of skin disease.

PMID:37758829 | PMC:PMC10533565 | DOI:10.1038/s41746-023-00914-8

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