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ChatGPT passes radiology board exam

May 17, 2023
Artificial Intelligence
The latest version of ChatGPT passed a radiology board-style exam, highlighting the potential of large language models but also revealing limitations that hinder reliability, according to two new research studies published in Radiology.

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses a deep learning model to recognize patterns and relationships between words in its vast training data to generate human-like responses based on a prompt. But since there is no source of truth in its training data, the tool can generate responses that are factually incorrect.

“The use of large language models like ChatGPT is exploding and only going to increase,” said lead author Dr. Rajesh Bhayana, an abdominal radiologist and technology lead at University Medical Imaging Toronto, Toronto General Hospital, in Toronto, Canada. “Our research provides insight into ChatGPT’s performance in a radiology context, highlighting the incredible potential of large language models, along with the current limitations that make it unreliable.”

ChatGPT was recently named the fastest growing consumer application in history, and similar chatbots are being incorporated into popular search engines like Google and Bing that physicians and patients use to search for medical information, Dr. Bhayana noted.

To assess its performance on radiology board exam questions and explore strengths and limitations, Dr. Bhayana and colleagues first tested ChatGPT based on GPT-3.5, currently the most commonly used version. The researchers used 150 multiple-choice questions designed to match the style, content and difficulty of the Canadian Royal College and American Board of Radiology exams.

The questions did not include images and were grouped by question type to gain insight into performance: lower-order (knowledge recall, basic understanding) and higher-order (apply, analyze, synthesize) thinking. The higher-order thinking questions were further subclassified by type (description of imaging findings, clinical management, calculation and classification, disease associations).

The performance of ChatGPT was evaluated overall and by question type and topic. Confidence of language in responses was also assessed.

The researchers found that ChatGPT based on GPT-3.5 answered 69% of questions correctly (104 of 150), near the passing grade of 70% used by the Royal College in Canada. The model performed relatively well on questions requiring lower-order thinking (84%, 51 of 61), but struggled with questions involving higher-order thinking (60%, 53 of 89). More specifically, it struggled with higher-order questions involving description of imaging findings (61%, 28 of 46), calculation and classification (25%, 2 of 8), and application of concepts (30%, 3 of 10). Its poor performance on higher-order thinking questions was not surprising given its lack of radiology-specific pretraining.

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