Segmentation of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) lesions is a challenging problem. Several deep-learning-based methods have been proposed in recent years. However, most methods tend to be static, that is, a single model trained on a large, specialized dataset, which does not generalize well. Instead, the model should learn across datasets arriving sequentially from different hospitals by building upon the characteristics of lesions in a continual manner. In this regard, we explore experience replay, a well-known continual learning method, in the context of MS lesion segmentation across multi-contrast data from 8 different hospitals. Our experiments show that replay is able to achieve positive backward transfer and reduce catastrophic forgetting compared to sequential fine-tuning. Furthermore, replay outperforms the multi-domain training, thereby emerging as a promising solution for the segmentation of MS lesions. The code is available at this link: https://github.com/naga-karthik/continual-learning-ms
The spinal cord is frequently affected by atrophy and/or lesions in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Segmentation of the spinal cord and lesions from MRI data provides measures of damage, which are key criteria for the diagnosis, prognosis, and longitudinal monitoring in MS. Automating this operation eliminates inter-rater variability and increases the efficiency of large-throughput analysis pipelines. Robust and reliable segmentation across multi-site spinal cord data is challenging because of the large variability related to acquisition parameters and image artifacts. The goal of this study was to develop a fully-automatic framework, robust to variability in both image parameters and clinical condition, for segmentation of the spinal cord and intramedullary MS lesions from conventional MRI data. Scans of 1,042 subjects (459 healthy controls, 471 MS patients, and 112 with other spinal pathologies) were included in this multi-site study (n=30). Data spanned three contrasts (T1-, T2-, and T2*-weighted) for a total of 1,943 volumes. The proposed cord and lesion automatic segmentation approach is based on a sequence of two Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs). To deal with the very small proportion of spinal cord and/or lesion voxels compared to the rest of the volume, a first CNN with 2D dilated convolutions detects the spinal cord centerline, followed by a second CNN with 3D convolutions that segments the spinal cord and/or lesions. When compared against manual segmentation, our CNN-based approach showed a median Dice of 95% vs. 88% for PropSeg, a state-of-the-art spinal cord segmentation method. Regarding lesion segmentation on MS data, our framework provided a Dice of 60%, a relative volume difference of -15%, and a lesion-wise detection sensitivity and precision of 83% and 77%, respectively. The proposed framework is open-source and readily available in the Spinal Cord Toolbox.