International challenges have become the de facto standard for comparative assessment of image analysis algorithms given a specific task. Segmentation is so far the most widely investigated medical image processing task, but the various segmentation challenges have typically been organized in isolation, such that algorithm development was driven by the need to tackle a single specific clinical problem. We hypothesized that a method capable of performing well on multiple tasks will generalize well to a previously unseen task and potentially outperform a custom-designed solution. To investigate the hypothesis, we organized the Medical Segmentation Decathlon (MSD) - a biomedical image analysis challenge, in which algorithms compete in a multitude of both tasks and modalities. The underlying data set was designed to explore the axis of difficulties typically encountered when dealing with medical images, such as small data sets, unbalanced labels, multi-site data and small objects. The MSD challenge confirmed that algorithms with a consistent good performance on a set of tasks preserved their good average performance on a different set of previously unseen tasks. Moreover, by monitoring the MSD winner for two years, we found that this algorithm continued generalizing well to a wide range of other clinical problems, further confirming our hypothesis. Three main conclusions can be drawn from this study: (1) state-of-the-art image segmentation algorithms are mature, accurate, and generalize well when retrained on unseen tasks; (2) consistent algorithmic performance across multiple tasks is a strong surrogate of algorithmic generalizability; (3) the training of accurate AI segmentation models is now commoditized to non AI experts.
Semantic segmentation of medical images aims to associate a pixel with a label in a medical image without human initialization. The success of semantic segmentation algorithms is contingent on the availability of high-quality imaging data with corresponding labels provided by experts. We sought to create a large collection of annotated medical image datasets of various clinically relevant anatomies available under open source license to facilitate the development of semantic segmentation algorithms. Such a resource would allow: 1) objective assessment of general-purpose segmentation methods through comprehensive benchmarking and 2) open and free access to medical image data for any researcher interested in the problem domain. Through a multi-institutional effort, we generated a large, curated dataset representative of several highly variable segmentation tasks that was used in a crowd-sourced challenge - the Medical Segmentation Decathlon held during the 2018 Medical Image Computing and Computer Aided Interventions Conference in Granada, Spain. Here, we describe these ten labeled image datasets so that these data may be effectively reused by the research community.
In this work, we report the set-up and results of the Liver Tumor Segmentation Benchmark (LITS) organized in conjunction with the IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) 2016 and International Conference On Medical Image Computing Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI) 2017. Twenty four valid state-of-the-art liver and liver tumor segmentation algorithms were applied to a set of 131 computed tomography (CT) volumes with different types of tumor contrast levels (hyper-/hypo-intense), abnormalities in tissues (metastasectomie) size and varying amount of lesions. The submitted algorithms have been tested on 70 undisclosed volumes. The dataset is created in collaboration with seven hospitals and research institutions and manually reviewed by independent three radiologists. We found that not a single algorithm performed best for liver and tumors. The best liver segmentation algorithm achieved a Dice score of 0.96(MICCAI) whereas for tumor segmentation the best algorithm evaluated at 0.67(ISBI) and 0.70(MICCAI). The LITS image data and manual annotations continue to be publicly available through an online evaluation system as an ongoing benchmarking resource.
Automatic segmentation of the liver and hepatic lesions is an important step towards deriving quantitative biomarkers for accurate clinical diagnosis and computer-aided decision support systems. This paper presents a method to automatically segment liver and lesions in CT and MRI abdomen images using cascaded fully convolutional neural networks (CFCNs) enabling the segmentation of a large-scale medical trial or quantitative image analysis. We train and cascade two FCNs for a combined segmentation of the liver and its lesions. In the first step, we train a FCN to segment the liver as ROI input for a second FCN. The second FCN solely segments lesions within the predicted liver ROIs of step 1. CFCN models were trained on an abdominal CT dataset comprising 100 hepatic tumor volumes. Validations on further datasets show that CFCN-based semantic liver and lesion segmentation achieves Dice scores over 94% for liver with computation times below 100s per volume. We further experimentally demonstrate the robustness of the proposed method on an 38 MRI liver tumor volumes and the public 3DIRCAD dataset.
Automatic segmentation of the liver and its lesion is an important step towards deriving quantitative biomarkers for accurate clinical diagnosis and computer-aided decision support systems. This paper presents a method to automatically segment liver and lesions in CT abdomen images using cascaded fully convolutional neural networks (CFCNs) and dense 3D conditional random fields (CRFs). We train and cascade two FCNs for a combined segmentation of the liver and its lesions. In the first step, we train a FCN to segment the liver as ROI input for a second FCN. The second FCN solely segments lesions from the predicted liver ROIs of step 1. We refine the segmentations of the CFCN using a dense 3D CRF that accounts for both spatial coherence and appearance. CFCN models were trained in a 2-fold cross-validation on the abdominal CT dataset 3DIRCAD comprising 15 hepatic tumor volumes. Our results show that CFCN-based semantic liver and lesion segmentation achieves Dice scores over 94% for liver with computation times below 100s per volume. We experimentally demonstrate the robustness of the proposed method as a decision support system with a high accuracy and speed for usage in daily clinical routine.