Accurate identification of EEG recordings with interictal epileptiform discharges using a hybrid approach: Artificial intelligence supervised by human experts



To evaluate the diagnostic performance of artificial intelligence (AI)–based algorithms for identifying the presence of interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) in routine (20-min) electroencephalography (EEG) recordings.


We evaluated two approaches: a fully automated one and a hybrid approach, where three human raters applied an operational IED definition to assess the automated detections grouped into clusters by the algorithms. We used three previously developed AI algorithms: Encevis, SpikeNet, and Persyst. The diagnostic gold standard (epilepsy or not) was derived from video-EEG recordings of patients’ habitual clinical episodes. We compared the algorithms with the gold standard at the recording level (epileptic or not). The independent validation data set (not used for training) consisted of 20-min EEG recordings containing sharp transients (epileptiform or not) from 60 patients: 30 with epilepsy (with a total of 340 IEDs) and 30 with nonepileptic paroxysmal events. We compared sensitivity, specificity, overall accuracy, and the review time-burden of the fully automated and hybrid approaches, with the conventional visual assessment of the whole recordings, based solely on unrestricted expert opinion.


For all three AI algorithms, the specificity of the fully automated approach was too low for clinical implementation (16.67%; 63.33%; 3.33%), despite the high sensitivity (96.67%; 66.67%; 100.00%). Using the hybrid approach significantly increased the specificity (93.33%; 96.67%; 96.67%) with good sensitivity (93.33%; 56.67%; 76.67%). The overall accuracy of the hybrid methods (93.33%; 76.67%; 86.67%) was similar to the conventional visual assessment of the whole recordings (83.33%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 71.48–91.70%; p > .5), yet the time-burden of review was significantly lower (p < .001).


The hybrid approach, where human raters apply the operational IED criteria to automated detections of AI-based algorithms, has high specificity, good sensitivity, and overall accuracy similar to conventional EEG reading, with a significantly lower time-burden. The hybrid approach is accurate and suitable for clinical implementation.