Patients with atrial fibrillation have a 5-7 fold increased risk of having an ischemic stroke. In these cases, the most common site of thrombus localization is inside the left atrial appendage (LAA) and studies have shown a correlation between the LAA shape and the risk of ischemic stroke. These studies make use of manual measurement and qualitative assessment of shape and are therefore prone to large inter-observer discrepancies, which may explain the contradictions between the conclusions in different studies. We argue that quantitative shape descriptors are necessary to robustly characterize LAA morphology and relate to other functional parameters and stroke risk. Deep Learning methods are becoming standardly available for segmenting cardiovascular structures from high resolution images such as computed tomography (CT), but only few have been tested for LAA segmentation. Furthermore, the majority of segmentation algorithms produces non-smooth 3D models that are not ideal for further processing, such as statistical shape analysis or computational fluid modelling. In this paper we present a fully automatic pipeline for image segmentation, mesh model creation and statistical shape modelling of the LAA. The LAA anatomy is implicitly represented as a signed distance field (SDF), which is directly regressed from the CT image using Deep Learning. The SDF is further used for registering the LAA shapes to a common template and build a statistical shape model (SSM). Based on 106 automatically segmented LAAs, the built SSM reveals that the LAA shape can be quantified using approximately 5 PCA modes and allows the identification of two distinct shape clusters corresponding to the so-called chicken-wing and non-chicken-wing morphologies.
Segmentation is a critical step in analyzing the developing human fetal brain. There have been vast improvements in automatic segmentation methods in the past several years, and the Fetal Brain Tissue Annotation (FeTA) Challenge 2021 helped to establish an excellent standard of fetal brain segmentation. However, FeTA 2021 was a single center study, and the generalizability of algorithms across different imaging centers remains unsolved, limiting real-world clinical applicability. The multi-center FeTA Challenge 2022 focuses on advancing the generalizability of fetal brain segmentation algorithms for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In FeTA 2022, the training dataset contained images and corresponding manually annotated multi-class labels from two imaging centers, and the testing data contained images from these two imaging centers as well as two additional unseen centers. The data from different centers varied in many aspects, including scanners used, imaging parameters, and fetal brain super-resolution algorithms applied. 16 teams participated in the challenge, and 17 algorithms were evaluated. Here, a detailed overview and analysis of the challenge results are provided, focusing on the generalizability of the submissions. Both in- and out of domain, the white matter and ventricles were segmented with the highest accuracy, while the most challenging structure remains the cerebral cortex due to anatomical complexity. The FeTA Challenge 2022 was able to successfully evaluate and advance generalizability of multi-class fetal brain tissue segmentation algorithms for MRI and it continues to benchmark new algorithms. The resulting new methods contribute to improving the analysis of brain development in utero.
* Results from FeTA Challenge 2022, held at MICCAI; Manuscript
submitted. Supplementary Info (including submission methods descriptions)
available here: https://zenodo.org/records/10628648
Accurate segmentation of fetal brain magnetic resonance images is crucial for analyzing fetal brain development and detecting potential neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Traditional deep learning-based automatic segmentation, although effective, requires extensive training data with ground-truth labels, typically produced by clinicians through a time-consuming annotation process. To overcome this challenge, we propose a novel unsupervised segmentation method based on multi-atlas segmentation, that accurately segments multiple tissues without relying on labeled data for training. Our method employs a cascaded deep learning network for 3D image registration, which computes small, incremental deformations to the moving image to align it precisely with the fixed image. This cascaded network can then be used to register multiple annotated images with the image to be segmented, and combine the propagated labels to form a refined segmentation. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed cascaded architecture outperforms the state-of-the-art registration methods that were tested. Furthermore, the derived segmentation method achieves similar performance and inference time to nnU-Net while only using a small subset of annotated data for the multi-atlas segmentation task and none for training the network. Our pipeline for registration and multi-atlas segmentation is publicly available at https://github.com/ValBcn/CasReg.
* 17 pages, 8 figures, 5 tables, paper submitted to IEEE transaction on
The assessment of left atrial appendage (LAA) thrombogenesis has experienced major advances with the adoption of patient-specific computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. Nonetheless, due to the vast computational resources and long execution times required by fluid dynamics solvers, there is an ever-growing body of work aiming to develop surrogate models of fluid flow simulations based on neural networks. The present study builds on this foundation by developing a deep learning (DL) framework capable of predicting the endothelial cell activation potential (ECAP), linked to the risk of thrombosis, solely from the patient-specific LAA geometry. To this end, we leveraged recent advancements in Geometric DL, which seamlessly extend the unparalleled potential of convolutional neural networks (CNN), to non-Euclidean data such as meshes. The model was trained with a dataset combining 202 synthetic and 54 real LAA, predicting the ECAP distributions instantaneously, with an average mean absolute error of 0.563. Moreover, the resulting framework manages to predict the anatomical features related to higher ECAP values even when trained exclusively on synthetic cases.
In-utero fetal MRI is emerging as an important tool in the diagnosis and analysis of the developing human brain. Automatic segmentation of the developing fetal brain is a vital step in the quantitative analysis of prenatal neurodevelopment both in the research and clinical context. However, manual segmentation of cerebral structures is time-consuming and prone to error and inter-observer variability. Therefore, we organized the Fetal Tissue Annotation (FeTA) Challenge in 2021 in order to encourage the development of automatic segmentation algorithms on an international level. The challenge utilized FeTA Dataset, an open dataset of fetal brain MRI reconstructions segmented into seven different tissues (external cerebrospinal fluid, grey matter, white matter, ventricles, cerebellum, brainstem, deep grey matter). 20 international teams participated in this challenge, submitting a total of 21 algorithms for evaluation. In this paper, we provide a detailed analysis of the results from both a technical and clinical perspective. All participants relied on deep learning methods, mainly U-Nets, with some variability present in the network architecture, optimization, and image pre- and post-processing. The majority of teams used existing medical imaging deep learning frameworks. The main differences between the submissions were the fine tuning done during training, and the specific pre- and post-processing steps performed. The challenge results showed that almost all submissions performed similarly. Four of the top five teams used ensemble learning methods. However, one team's algorithm performed significantly superior to the other submissions, and consisted of an asymmetrical U-Net network architecture. This paper provides a first of its kind benchmark for future automatic multi-tissue segmentation algorithms for the developing human brain in utero.
* Results from FeTA Challenge 2021, held at MICCAI; Manuscript
Deep learning (DL) methods where interpretability is intrinsically considered as part of the model are required to better understand the relationship of clinical and imaging-based attributes with DL outcomes, thus facilitating their use in reasoning medical decisions. Latent space representations built with variational autoencoders (VAE) do not ensure individual control of data attributes. Attribute-based methods enforcing attribute disentanglement have been proposed in the literature for classical computer vision tasks in benchmark data. In this paper, we propose a VAE approach, the Attri-VAE, that includes an attribute regularization term to associate clinical and medical imaging attributes with different regularized dimensions in the generated latent space, enabling a better disentangled interpretation of the attributes. Furthermore, the generated attention maps explained the attribute encoding in the regularized latent space dimensions. The Attri-VAE approach analyzed healthy and myocardial infarction patients with clinical, cardiac morphology, and radiomics attributes. The proposed model provided an excellent trade-off between reconstruction fidelity, disentanglement, and interpretability, outperforming state-of-the-art VAE approaches according to several quantitative metrics. The resulting latent space allowed the generation of realistic synthetic data in the trajectory between two distinct input samples or along a specific attribute dimension to better interpret changes between different cardiac conditions.
Obtaining per-beat information is a key task in the analysis of cardiac electrocardiograms (ECG), as many downstream diagnosis tasks are dependent on ECG-based measurements. Those measurements, however, are costly to produce, especially in recordings that change throughout long periods of time. However, existing annotated databases for ECG delineation are small, being insufficient in size and in the array of pathological conditions they represent. This article delves has two main contributions. First, a pseudo-synthetic data generation algorithm was developed, based in probabilistically composing ECG traces given "pools" of fundamental segments, as cropped from the original databases, and a set of rules for their arrangement into coherent synthetic traces. The generation of conditions is controlled by imposing expert knowledge on the generated trace, which increases the input variability for training the model. Second, two novel segmentation-based loss functions have been developed, which attempt at enforcing the prediction of an exact number of independent structures and at producing closer segmentation boundaries by focusing on a reduced number of samples. The best performing model obtained an $F_1$-score of 99.38\% and a delineation error of $2.19 \pm 17.73$ ms and $4.45 \pm 18.32$ ms for all wave's fiducials (onsets and offsets, respectively), as averaged across the P, QRS and T waves for three distinct freely available databases. The excellent results were obtained despite the heterogeneous characteristics of the tested databases, in terms of lead configurations (Holter, 12-lead), sampling frequencies ($250$, $500$ and $2,000$ Hz) and represented pathophysiologies (e.g., different types of arrhythmias, sinus rhythm with structural heart disease), hinting at its generalization capabilities, while outperforming current state-of-the-art delineation approaches.
The use of mechanistic models in clinical studies is limited by the lack of multi-modal patients data representing different anatomical and physiological processes. For example, neuroimaging datasets do not provide a sufficient representation of heart features for the modeling of cardiovascular factors in brain disorders. To tackle this problem we introduce a probabilistic framework for joint cardiac data imputation and personalisation of cardiovascular mechanistic models, with application to brain studies with incomplete heart data. Our approach is based on a variational framework for the joint inference of an imputation model of cardiac information from the available features, along with a Gaussian Process emulator that can faithfully reproduce personalised cardiovascular dynamics. Experimental results on UK Biobank show that our model allows accurate imputation of missing cardiac features in datasets containing minimal heart information, e.g. systolic and diastolic blood pressures only, while jointly estimating the emulated parameters of the lumped model. This allows a novel exploration of the heart-brain joint relationship through simulation of realistic cardiac dynamics corresponding to different conditions of brain anatomy.
Hypertension is a medical condition that is well-established as a risk factor for many major diseases. For example, it can cause alterations in the cardiac structure and function over time that can lead to heart related morbidity and mortality. However, at the subclinical stage, these changes are subtle and cannot be easily captured using conventional cardiovascular indices calculated from clinical cardiac imaging. In this paper, we describe a radiomics approach for identifying intermediate imaging phenotypes associated with hypertension. The method combines feature selection and machine learning techniques to identify the most subtle as well as complex structural and tissue changes in hypertensive subgroups as compared to healthy individuals. Validation based on a sample of asymptomatic hearts that include both hypertensive and non-hypertensive cases demonstrate that the proposed radiomics model is capable of detecting intensity and textural changes well beyond the capabilities of conventional imaging phenotypes, indicating its potential for improved understanding of the longitudinal effects of hypertension on cardiovascular health and disease.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) detection and delineation are key steps for numerous tasks in clinical practice, as ECG is the most performed non-invasive test for assessing cardiac condition. State-of-the-art algorithms employ digital signal processing (DSP), which require laborious rule adaptation to new morphologies. In contrast, deep learning (DL) algorithms, especially for classification, are gaining weight in academic and industrial settings. However, the lack of model explainability and small databases hinder their applicability. We demonstrate DL can be successfully applied to low interpretative tasks by embedding ECG detection and delineation onto a segmentation framework. For this purpose, we adapted and validated the most used neural network architecture for image segmentation, the U-Net, to one-dimensional data. The model was trained using PhysioNet's QT database, comprised of 105 ambulatory ECG recordings, for single- and multi-lead scenarios. To alleviate data scarcity, data regularization techniques such as pre-training with low-quality data labels, performing ECG-based data augmentation and applying strong model regularizers to the architecture were attempted. Other variations in the model's capacity (U-Net's depth and width), alongside the application of state-of-the-art additions, were evaluated. These variations were exhaustively validated in a 5-fold cross-validation manner. The best performing configuration reached precisions of 90.12%, 99.14% and 98.25% and recalls of 98.73%, 99.94% and 99.88% for the P, QRS and T waves, respectively, on par with DSP-based approaches. Despite being a data-hungry technique trained on a small dataset, DL-based approaches demonstrate to be a viable alternative to traditional DSP-based ECG processing techniques.