Transfer learning leverages pre-trained model features from a large dataset to save time and resources when training new models for various tasks, potentially enhancing performance. Due to the lack of large datasets in the medical imaging domain, transfer learning from one medical imaging model to other medical imaging models has not been widely explored. This study explores the use of transfer learning to improve the performance of deep convolutional neural networks for organ segmentation in medical imaging. A base segmentation model (3D U-Net) was trained on a large and sparsely annotated dataset; its weights were used for transfer learning on four new down-stream segmentation tasks for which a fully annotated dataset was available. We analyzed the training set size's influence to simulate scarce data. The results showed that transfer learning from the base model was beneficial when small datasets were available, providing significant performance improvements; where fine-tuning the base model is more beneficial than updating all the network weights with vanilla transfer learning. Transfer learning with fine-tuning increased the performance by up to 0.129 (+28\%) Dice score than experiments trained from scratch, and on average 23 experiments increased the performance by 0.029 Dice score in the new segmentation tasks. The study also showed that cross-modality transfer learning using CT scans was beneficial. The findings of this study demonstrate the potential of transfer learning to improve the efficiency of annotation and increase the accessibility of accurate organ segmentation in medical imaging, ultimately leading to improved patient care. We made the network definition and weights publicly available to benefit other users and researchers.
In this study, we introduce a deep learning approach for segmenting kidney parenchyma and kidney abnormalities to support clinicians in identifying and quantifying renal abnormalities such as cysts, lesions, masses, metastases, and primary tumors. Our end-to-end segmentation method was trained on 215 contrast-enhanced thoracic-abdominal CT scans, with half of these scans containing one or more abnormalities. We began by implementing our own version of the original 3D U-Net network and incorporated four additional components: an end-to-end multi-resolution approach, a set of task-specific data augmentations, a modified loss function using top-$k$, and spatial dropout. Furthermore, we devised a tailored post-processing strategy. Ablation studies demonstrated that each of the four modifications enhanced kidney abnormality segmentation performance, while three out of four improved kidney parenchyma segmentation. Subsequently, we trained the nnUNet framework on our dataset. By ensembling the optimized 3D U-Net and the nnUNet with our specialized post-processing, we achieved marginally superior results. Our best-performing model attained Dice scores of 0.965 and 0.947 for segmenting kidney parenchyma in two test sets (20 scans without abnormalities and 30 with abnormalities), outperforming an independent human observer who scored 0.944 and 0.925, respectively. In segmenting kidney abnormalities within the 30 test scans containing them, the top-performing method achieved a Dice score of 0.585, while an independent second human observer reached a score of 0.664, suggesting potential for further improvement in computerized methods. All training data is available to the research community under a CC-BY 4.0 license on https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.8014289
Accurate identification of emphysema subtypes and severity is crucial for effective management of COPD and the study of disease heterogeneity. Manual analysis of emphysema subtypes and severity is laborious and subjective. To address this challenge, we present a deep learning-based approach for automating the Fleischner Society's visual score system for emphysema subtyping and severity analysis. We trained and evaluated our algorithm using 9650 subjects from the COPDGene study. Our algorithm achieved the predictive accuracy at 52\%, outperforming a previously published method's accuracy of 45\%. In addition, the agreement between the predicted scores of our method and the visual scores was good, where the previous method obtained only moderate agreement. Our approach employs a regression training strategy to generate categorical labels while simultaneously producing high-resolution localized activation maps for visualizing the network predictions. By leveraging these dense activation maps, our method possesses the capability to compute the percentage of emphysema involvement per lung in addition to categorical severity scores. Furthermore, the proposed method extends its predictive capabilities beyond centrilobular emphysema to include paraseptal emphysema subtypes.
Challenges drive the state-of-the-art of automated medical image analysis. The quantity of public training data that they provide can limit the performance of their solutions. Public access to the training methodology for these solutions remains absent. This study implements the Type Three (T3) challenge format, which allows for training solutions on private data and guarantees reusable training methodologies. With T3, challenge organizers train a codebase provided by the participants on sequestered training data. T3 was implemented in the STOIC2021 challenge, with the goal of predicting from a computed tomography (CT) scan whether subjects had a severe COVID-19 infection, defined as intubation or death within one month. STOIC2021 consisted of a Qualification phase, where participants developed challenge solutions using 2000 publicly available CT scans, and a Final phase, where participants submitted their training methodologies with which solutions were trained on CT scans of 9724 subjects. The organizers successfully trained six of the eight Final phase submissions. The submitted codebases for training and running inference were released publicly. The winning solution obtained an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for discerning between severe and non-severe COVID-19 of 0.815. The Final phase solutions of all finalists improved upon their Qualification phase solutions.HSUXJM-TNZF9CHSUXJM-TNZF9C
This paper presents a large publicly available multi-center lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) dataset with reference segmentations of vertebrae, intervertebral discs (IVDs), and spinal canal. The dataset includes 447 sagittal T1 and T2 MRI series from 218 patients with a history of low back pain. It was collected from four different hospitals and was divided into a training (179 patients) and validation (39 patients) set. An iterative data annotation approach was used by training a segmentation algorithm on a small part of the dataset, enabling semi-automatic segmentation of the remaining images. The algorithm provided an initial segmentation, which was subsequently reviewed, manually corrected, and added to the training data. We provide reference performance values for this baseline algorithm and nnU-Net, which performed comparably. We set up a continuous segmentation challenge to allow for a fair comparison of different segmentation algorithms. This study may encourage wider collaboration in the field of spine segmentation, and improve the diagnostic value of lumbar spine MRI.
The early detection of glaucoma is essential in preventing visual impairment. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to analyze color fundus photographs (CFPs) in a cost-effective manner, making glaucoma screening more accessible. While AI models for glaucoma screening from CFPs have shown promising results in laboratory settings, their performance decreases significantly in real-world scenarios due to the presence of out-of-distribution and low-quality images. To address this issue, we propose the Artificial Intelligence for Robust Glaucoma Screening (AIROGS) challenge. This challenge includes a large dataset of around 113,000 images from about 60,000 patients and 500 different screening centers, and encourages the development of algorithms that are robust to ungradable and unexpected input data. We evaluated solutions from 14 teams in this paper, and found that the best teams performed similarly to a set of 20 expert ophthalmologists and optometrists. The highest-scoring team achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.99 (95% CI: 0.98-0.99) for detecting ungradable images on-the-fly. Additionally, many of the algorithms showed robust performance when tested on three other publicly available datasets. These results demonstrate the feasibility of robust AI-enabled glaucoma screening.
Validation metrics are key for the reliable tracking of scientific progress and for bridging the current chasm between artificial intelligence (AI) research and its translation into practice. However, increasing evidence shows that particularly in image analysis, metrics are often chosen inadequately in relation to the underlying research problem. This could be attributed to a lack of accessibility of metric-related knowledge: While taking into account the individual strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of validation metrics is a critical prerequisite to making educated choices, the relevant knowledge is currently scattered and poorly accessible to individual researchers. Based on a multi-stage Delphi process conducted by a multidisciplinary expert consortium as well as extensive community feedback, the present work provides the first reliable and comprehensive common point of access to information on pitfalls related to validation metrics in image analysis. Focusing on biomedical image analysis but with the potential of transfer to other fields, the addressed pitfalls generalize across application domains and are categorized according to a newly created, domain-agnostic taxonomy. To facilitate comprehension, illustrations and specific examples accompany each pitfall. As a structured body of information accessible to researchers of all levels of expertise, this work enhances global comprehension of a key topic in image analysis validation.
Deep learning classification models for medical image analysis often perform well on data from scanners that were used during training. However, when these models are applied to data from different vendors, their performance tends to drop substantially. Artifacts that only occur within scans from specific scanners are major causes of this poor generalizability. We aimed to improve the reliability of deep learning classification models by proposing Uncertainty-Based Instance eXclusion (UBIX). This technique, based on multiple-instance learning, reduces the effect of corrupted instances on the bag-classification by seamlessly integrating out-of-distribution (OOD) instance detection during inference. Although UBIX is generally applicable to different medical images and diverse classification tasks, we focused on staging of age-related macular degeneration in optical coherence tomography. After being trained using images from one vendor, UBIX showed a reliable behavior, with a slight decrease in performance (a decrease of the quadratic weighted kappa ($\kappa_w$) from 0.861 to 0.708), when applied to images from different vendors containing artifacts; while a state-of-the-art 3D neural network suffered from a significant detriment of performance ($\kappa_w$ from 0.852 to 0.084) on the same test set. We showed that instances with unseen artifacts can be identified with OOD detection and their contribution to the bag-level predictions can be reduced, improving reliability without the need for retraining on new data. This potentially increases the applicability of artificial intelligence models to data from other scanners than the ones for which they were developed.