Among all the sub-sections in a typical radiology report, the Clinical Indications, Findings, and Impression often reflect important details about the health status of a patient. The information included in Impression is also often covered in Findings. While Findings and Impression can be deduced by inspecting the image, Clinical Indications often require additional context. The cognitive task of interpreting medical images remains the most critical and often time-consuming step in the radiology workflow. Instead of generating an end-to-end radiology report, in this paper, we focus on generating the Findings from automated interpretation of medical images, specifically chest X-rays (CXRs). Thus, this work focuses on reducing the workload of radiologists who spend most of their time either writing or narrating the Findings. Unlike past research, which addresses radiology report generation as a single-step image captioning task, we have further taken into consideration the complexity of interpreting CXR images and propose a two-step approach: (a) detecting the regions with abnormalities in the image, and (b) generating relevant text for regions with abnormalities by employing a generative large language model (LLM). This two-step approach introduces a layer of interpretability and aligns the framework with the systematic reasoning that radiologists use when reviewing a CXR.
Most natural language tasks in the radiology domain use language models pre-trained on biomedical corpus. There are few pretrained language models trained specifically for radiology, and fewer still that have been trained in a low data setting and gone on to produce comparable results in fine-tuning tasks. We present RadLing, a continuously pretrained language model using Electra-small (Clark et al., 2020) architecture, trained using over 500K radiology reports, that can compete with state-of-the-art results for fine tuning tasks in radiology domain. Our main contribution in this paper is knowledge-aware masking which is a taxonomic knowledge-assisted pretraining task that dynamically masks tokens to inject knowledge during pretraining. In addition, we also introduce an knowledge base-aided vocabulary extension to adapt the general tokenization vocabulary to radiology domain.