Introduction: The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a visually explainable deep learning model for the classification of C-shaped canals of the mandibular second molars in dental radiographs. Methods: The periapical and panoramic images of 1000 mandibular second molars were collected from 372 patients. The diagnostic performance of the deep learning system using periapical and panoramic radiographs was investigated in respect to its ability to determine whether the second mandibular molar showed a C-shaped canal configuration. The assessment of the canal configuration of cone-beam computed tomographic volumes from 372 patients (740 mandibular second molars) was used as a gold standard. Results: The deep convolutional neural network algorithm model showed high accuracy in predicting the C-shaped canal variation among mandibular second molars in both periapical and panoramic images. The model demonstrated best results when using image patches including only the root portion of the tooth and when using both periapical and panoramic images for training (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.99). The model's diagnostic performance using only the root portion of the tooth (AUC: periapical = 0.98 and panoramic = 0.95) was similar to a specialist (AUC: periapical = 0.95 and panoramic = 0.96) and better than a novice general clinician (AUC: periapical = 0.89 and panoramic = 0.91). Both the specialist and general clinician showed better diagnostic performance when reading panoramic radiographs compared with periapical images. Conclusions: With further optimization of the test data using a larger data set and improvements made in the model, a deep learning system may be expected to effectively diagnose C-shaped canals and aid clinicians in practice and education.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Sujin Yang and Hagyeong Lee contributed equally to this study. The authors deny any conflicts of interest related to this study.
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