A Machine Learning Tool Using Digital Microscopy (Morphogo) for the Identification of Abnormal Lymphocytes in the Bone Marrow

Gusheng Tang, Xinyan Fu, Zhen Wang, Mingyi Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Morphological analysis of the bone marrow is an essential step in the diagnosis of hematological disease. The conventional analysis of bone marrow smears is performed under a manual microscope, which is labor-intensive and subject to interobserver variability. The morphological differential diagnosis of abnormal lymphocytes from normal lymphocytes is still challenging. The digital pathology methods integrated with advances in machine learning enable new diagnostic features/algorithms from digital bone marrow cell images in order to optimize classification, thus providing a robust and faster screening diagnostic tool. We have developed a machine learning system, Morphogo, based on algorithms to discriminate abnormal lymphocytes from normal lymphocytes using digital imaging analysis. We retrospectively reviewed 347 cases of bone marrow digital images. Among them, 53 cases had a clinical history and the diagnosis of marrow involvement with lymphoma was confirmed either by morphology or flow cytometry. We split the 53 cases into two groups for training and testing with 43 and 10 cases, respectively. The selected 15,353 cell images were reviewed by pathologists, based on morphological visual appearance, from 43 patients whose diagnosis was confirmed by complementary tests. To expand the range and the precision of recognizing the lymphoid cells in the marrow by automated digital microscopy systems, we developed an algorithm that incorporated color and texture in addition to geometrical cytological features of the variable lymphocyte images which were applied as the training data set. The selected images from the 10 patients were analyzed by the trained artificial intelligence-based recognition system and compared with the final diagnosis rendered by pathologists. The positive predictive value for the identification of the categories of reactive/normal lymphocytes and abnormal lymphoid cells was 99.04%. It seems likely that further training and improvement of the algorithms will facilitate further subclassification of specific lineage subset pathology, e.g., diffuse large B-cell lymphoma from chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma or even hairy cell leukemia in cases of abnormal malignant lymphocyte classes in the future. This research demonstrated the feasibility of digital pathology and emerging machine learning approaches to automatically diagnose lymphoma cells in the bone marrow based on cytological-histological analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-357
Number of pages4
JournalActa Cytologica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021


  • Bone marrow
  • Digital pathology
  • Lymphocyte
  • Machine learning
  • Morphological analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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