Machine learning classification of placental villous infarction, perivillous fibrin deposition, and intervillous thrombus

Jeffery A. Goldstein*, Ramin Nateghi, Ismail Irmakci, Lee A.D. Cooper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Placental parenchymal lesions are commonly encountered and carry significant clinical associations. However, they are frequently missed or misclassified by general practice pathologists. Interpretation of pathology slides has emerged as one of the most successful applications of machine learning (ML) in medicine with applications ranging from cancer detection and prognostication to transplant medicine. The goal of this study was to use a whole-slide learning model to identify and classify placental parenchymal lesions including villous infarctions, intervillous thrombi (IVT), and perivillous fibrin deposition (PVFD). Methods: We generated whole slide images from placental discs examined at our institution with infarct, IVT, PVFD, or no macroscopic lesion. Slides were analyzed as a set of overlapping patches. We extracted feature vectors from each patch using a pretrained convolutional neural network (EfficientNetV2L). We trained a model to assign attention to each vector and used the attentions as weights to produce a pooled feature vector. The pooled vector was classified as normal or 1 of 3 lesions using a fully connected network. Patch attention was plotted to highlight informative areas of the slide. Results: Overall balanced accuracy in a test set of held-out slides was 0.86 with receiver-operator characteristic areas under the curve of 0.917–0.993. Cases of PVFD were frequently miscalled as normal or infarcts, the latter possibly due to the perivillous fibrin found at the periphery of infarctions. We used attention maps to further understand some errors, including one most likely due to poor tissue fixation and processing. Discussion: We used a whole-slide learning paradigm to train models to recognize three of the most common placental parenchymal lesions. We used attention maps to gain insight into model function, which differed from intuitive explanations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Infarction
  • Intervillous thrombus
  • Machine learning
  • Perivillous fibrin
  • Placenta pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology


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