AI recognition of patient race in medical imaging: a modelling study


Previous studies in medical imaging have shown disparate abilities of artificial intelligence (AI) to detect a person's race, yet there is no known correlation for race on medical imaging that would be obvious to human experts when interpreting the images. We aimed to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the ability of AI to recognise a patient's racial identity from medical images. Using private (Emory CXR, Emory Chest CT, Emory Cervical Spine, and Emory Mammogram) and public (MIMIC-CXR, CheXpert, National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, RSNA Pulmonary Embolism CT, and Digital Hand Atlas) datasets, we evaluated, first, performance quantification of deep learning models in detecting race from medical images, including the ability of these models to generalise to external environments and across multiple imaging modalities. Second, we assessed possible confounding of anatomic and phenotypic population features by assessing the ability of these hypothesised confounders to detect race in isolation using regression models, and by re-evaluating the deep learning models by testing them on datasets stratified by these hypothesised confounding variables. Last, by exploring the effect of image corruptions on model performance, we investigated the underlying mechanism by which AI models can recognise race.

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