Deep learning (DL) models have provided the state-of-the-art performance in a wide variety of medical imaging benchmarking challenges, including the Brain Tumor Segmentation (BraTS) challenges. However, the task of focal pathology multi-compartment segmentation (e.g., tumor and lesion sub-regions) is particularly challenging, and potential errors hinder the translation of DL models into clinical workflows. Quantifying the reliability of DL model predictions in the form of uncertainties, could enable clinical review of the most uncertain regions, thereby building trust and paving the way towards clinical translation. Recently, a number of uncertainty estimation methods have been introduced for DL medical image segmentation tasks. Developing metrics to evaluate and compare the performance of uncertainty measures will assist the end-user in making more informed decisions. In this study, we explore and evaluate a metric developed during the BraTS 2019-2020 task on uncertainty quantification (QU-BraTS), and designed to assess and rank uncertainty estimates for brain tumor multi-compartment segmentation. This metric (1) rewards uncertainty estimates that produce high confidence in correct assertions, and those that assign low confidence levels at incorrect assertions, and (2) penalizes uncertainty measures that lead to a higher percentages of under-confident correct assertions. We further benchmark the segmentation uncertainties generated by 14 independent participating teams of QU-BraTS 2020, all of which also participated in the main BraTS segmentation task. Overall, our findings confirm the importance and complementary value that uncertainty estimates provide to segmentation algorithms, and hence highlight the need for uncertainty quantification in medical image analyses. Our evaluation code is made publicly available at https://github.com/RagMeh11/QU-BraTS.
Factor analysis has proven to be a relevant tool for extracting tissue time-activity curves (TACs) in dynamic PET images, since it allows for an unsupervised analysis of the data. To provide reliable and interpretable outputs, it requires to be conducted with respect to a suitable noise statistics. However, the noise in reconstructed dynamic PET images is very difficult to characterize, despite the Poissonian nature of the count-rates. Rather than explicitly modeling the noise distribution, this work proposes to study the relevance of several divergence measures to be used within a factor analysis framework. To this end, the $\beta$-divergence, widely used in other applicative domains, is considered to design the data-fitting term involved in three different factor models. The performances of the resulting algorithms are evaluated for different values of $\beta$, in a range covering Gaussian, Poissonian and Gamma-distributed noises. The results obtained on two different types of synthetic images and one real image show the interest of applying non-standard values of $\beta$ to improve factor analysis.
To analyze dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) images, various generic multivariate data analysis techniques have been considered in the literature, such as principal component analysis (PCA), independent component analysis (ICA), factor analysis and nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF). Nevertheless, these conventional approaches neglect any possible nonlinear variations in the time activity curves describing the kinetic behavior of tissues with specific binding, which limits their ability to recover a reliable, understandable and interpretable description of the data. This paper proposes an alternative analysis paradigm that accounts for spatial fluctuations in the exchange rate of the tracer between a free compartment and a specifically bound ligand compartment. The method relies on the concept of linear unmixing, usually applied on the hyperspectral domain, which combines NMF with a sum-to-one constraint that ensures an exhaustive description of the mixtures. The spatial variability of the signature corresponding to the specific binding tissue is explicitly modeled through a perturbed component. The performance of the method is assessed on both synthetic and real data and is shown to compete favorably when compared to other conventional analysis methods. The proposed method improved both factor estimation and proportions extraction for specific binding. Modeling the variability of the specific binding factor has a strong potential impact for dynamic PET image analysis.