Numerous prognostic factors are currently assessed histopathologically in biopsies of canine mast cell tumors to evaluate clinical behavior. In addition, PCR analysis of the c-Kit exon 11 mutational status is often performed to evaluate the potential success of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. This project aimed at training deep learning models (DLMs) to identify the c-Kit-11 mutational status of MCTs solely based on morphology without additional molecular analysis. HE slides of 195 mutated and 173 non-mutated tumors were stained consecutively in two different laboratories and scanned with three different slide scanners. This resulted in six different datasets (stain-scanner variations) of whole slide images. DLMs were trained with single and mixed datasets and their performances was assessed under scanner and staining domain shifts. The DLMs correctly classified HE slides according to their c-Kit 11 mutation status in, on average, 87% of cases for the best-suited stain-scanner variant. A relevant performance drop could be observed when the stain-scanner combination of the training and test dataset differed. Multi-variant datasets improved the average accuracy but did not reach the maximum accuracy of algorithms trained and tested on the same stain-scanner variant. In summary, DLM-assisted morphological examination of MCTs can predict c-Kit-exon 11 mutational status of MCTs with high accuracy. However, the recognition performance is impeded by a change of scanner or staining protocol. Larger data sets with higher numbers of scans originating from different laboratories and scanners may lead to more robust DLMs to identify c-Kit mutations in HE slides.
Recognition of mitotic figures in histologic tumor specimens is highly relevant to patient outcome assessment. This task is challenging for algorithms and human experts alike, with deterioration of algorithmic performance under shifts in image representations. Considerable covariate shifts occur when assessment is performed on different tumor types, images are acquired using different digitization devices, or specimens are produced in different laboratories. This observation motivated the inception of the 2022 challenge on MItosis Domain Generalization (MIDOG 2022). The challenge provided annotated histologic tumor images from six different domains and evaluated the algorithmic approaches for mitotic figure detection provided by nine challenge participants on ten independent domains. Ground truth for mitotic figure detection was established in two ways: a three-expert consensus and an independent, immunohistochemistry-assisted set of labels. This work represents an overview of the challenge tasks, the algorithmic strategies employed by the participants, and potential factors contributing to their success. With an $F_1$ score of 0.764 for the top-performing team, we summarize that domain generalization across various tumor domains is possible with today's deep learning-based recognition pipelines. When assessed against the immunohistochemistry-assisted reference standard, all methods resulted in reduced recall scores, but with only minor changes in the order of participants in the ranking.
Variation in nuclear size and shape is an important criterion of malignancy for many tumor types; however, categorical estimates by pathologists have poor reproducibility. Measurements of nuclear characteristics (morphometry) can improve reproducibility, but manual methods are time consuming. In this study, we evaluated fully automated morphometry using a deep learning-based algorithm in 96 canine cutaneous mast cell tumors with information on patient survival. Algorithmic morphometry was compared with karyomegaly estimates by 11 pathologists, manual nuclear morphometry of 12 cells by 9 pathologists, and the mitotic count as a benchmark. The prognostic value of automated morphometry was high with an area under the ROC curve regarding the tumor-specific survival of 0.943 (95% CI: 0.889 - 0.996) for the standard deviation (SD) of nuclear area, which was higher than manual morphometry of all pathologists combined (0.868, 95% CI: 0.737 - 0.991) and the mitotic count (0.885, 95% CI: 0.765 - 1.00). At the proposed thresholds, the hazard ratio for algorithmic morphometry (SD of nuclear area $\geq 9.0 \mu m^2$) was 18.3 (95% CI: 5.0 - 67.1), for manual morphometry (SD of nuclear area $\geq 10.9 \mu m^2$) 9.0 (95% CI: 6.0 - 13.4), for karyomegaly estimates 7.6 (95% CI: 5.7 - 10.1), and for the mitotic count 30.5 (95% CI: 7.8 - 118.0). Inter-rater reproducibility for karyomegaly estimates was fair ($\kappa$ = 0.226) with highly variable sensitivity/specificity values for the individual pathologists. Reproducibility for manual morphometry (SD of nuclear area) was good (ICC = 0.654). This study supports the use of algorithmic morphometry as a prognostic test to overcome the limitations of estimates and manual measurements.
In histopathology, scanner-induced domain shifts are known to impede the performance of trained neural networks when tested on unseen data. Multi-domain pre-training or dedicated domain-generalization techniques can help to develop domain-agnostic algorithms. For this, multi-scanner datasets with a high variety of slide scanning systems are highly desirable. We present a publicly available multi-scanner dataset of canine cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma histopathology images, composed of 44 samples digitized with five slide scanners. This dataset provides local correspondences between images and thereby isolates the scanner-induced domain shift from other inherent, e.g. morphology-induced domain shifts. To highlight scanner differences, we present a detailed evaluation of color distributions, sharpness, and contrast of the individual scanner subsets. Additionally, to quantify the inherent scanner-induced domain shift, we train a tumor segmentation network on each scanner subset and evaluate the performance both in- and cross-domain. We achieve a class-averaged in-domain intersection over union coefficient of up to 0.86 and observe a cross-domain performance decrease of up to 0.38, which confirms the inherent domain shift of the presented dataset and its negative impact on the performance of deep neural networks.
Nucleolar organizer regions (NORs) are parts of the DNA that are involved in RNA transcription. Due to the silver affinity of associated proteins, argyrophilic NORs (AgNORs) can be visualized using silver-based staining. The average number of AgNORs per nucleus has been shown to be a prognostic factor for predicting the outcome of many tumors. Since manual detection of AgNORs is laborious, automation is of high interest. We present a deep learning-based pipeline for automatically determining the AgNOR-score from histopathological sections. An additional annotation experiment was conducted with six pathologists to provide an independent performance evaluation of our approach. Across all raters and images, we found a mean squared error of 0.054 between the AgNOR- scores of the experts and those of the model, indicating that our approach offers performance comparable to humans.
Computer-aided systems in histopathology are often challenged by various sources of domain shift that impact the performance of these algorithms considerably. We investigated the potential of using self-supervised pre-training to overcome scanner-induced domain shifts for the downstream task of tumor segmentation. For this, we present the Barlow Triplets to learn scanner-invariant representations from a multi-scanner dataset with local image correspondences. We show that self-supervised pre-training successfully aligned different scanner representations, which, interestingly only results in a limited benefit for our downstream task. We thereby provide insights into the influence of scanner characteristics for downstream applications and contribute to a better understanding of why established self-supervised methods have not yet shown the same success on histopathology data as they have for natural images.
* 5 pages, 4 figures, 1 table. This work has been submitted to the IEEE
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Due to morphological similarities, the differentiation of histologic sections of cutaneous tumors into individual subtypes can be challenging. Recently, deep learning-based approaches have proven their potential for supporting pathologists in this regard. However, many of these supervised algorithms require a large amount of annotated data for robust development. We present a publicly available dataset consisting of 350 whole slide images of seven different canine cutaneous tumors complemented by 12,424 polygon annotations for 13 histologic classes including seven cutaneous tumor subtypes. Regarding sample size and annotation extent, this exceeds most publicly available datasets which are oftentimes limited to the tumor area or merely provide patch-level annotations. We validated our model for tissue segmentation, achieving a class-averaged Jaccard coefficient of 0.7047, and 0.9044 for tumor in particular. For tumor subtype classification, we achieve a slide-level accuracy of 0.9857. Since canine cutaneous tumors possess various histologic homologies to human tumors, we believe that the added value of this dataset is not limited to veterinary pathology but extends to more general fields of application.
Annotating data, especially in the medical domain, requires expert knowledge and a lot of effort. This limits the amount and/or usefulness of available medical data sets for experimentation. Therefore, developing strategies to increase the number of annotations while lowering the needed domain knowledge is of interest. A possible strategy is the use of gamification, that is i.e. transforming the annotation task into a game. We propose an approach to gamify the task of annotating lung fluid cells from pathological whole slide images. As this domain is unknown to non-expert annotators, we transform images of cells detected with a RetinaNet architecture to the domain of flower images. This domain transfer is performed with a CycleGAN architecture for different cell types. In this more assessable domain, non-expert annotators can be (t)asked to annotate different kinds of flowers in a playful setting. In order to provide a proof of concept, this work shows that the domain transfer is possible by evaluating an image classification network trained on real cell images and tested on the cell images generated by the CycleGAN network. The classification network reaches an accuracy of 97.48% and 95.16% on the original lung fluid cells and transformed lung fluid cells, respectively. With this study, we lay the foundation for future research on gamification using CycleGANs.
Pulmonary hemorrhage (P-Hem) occurs among multiple species and can have various causes. Cytology of bronchoalveolarlavage fluid (BALF) using a 5-tier scoring system of alveolar macrophages based on their hemosiderin content is considered the most sensitive diagnostic method. We introduce a novel, fully annotated multi-species P-Hem dataset which consists of 74 cytology whole slide images (WSIs) with equine, feline and human samples. To create this high-quality and high-quantity dataset, we developed an annotation pipeline combining human expertise with deep learning and data visualisation techniques. We applied a deep learning-based object detection approach trained on 17 expertly annotated equine WSIs, to the remaining 39 equine, 12 human and 7 feline WSIs. The resulting annotations were semi-automatically screened for errors on multiple types of specialised annotation maps and finally reviewed by a trained pathologists. Our dataset contains a total of 297,383 hemosiderophages classified into five grades. It is one of the largest publicly availableWSIs datasets with respect to the number of annotations, the scanned area and the number of species covered.
Automated detection of mitotic figures in histopathology images has seen vast improvements, thanks to modern deep learning-based pipelines. Application of these methods, however, is in practice limited by strong variability of images between labs. This results in a domain shift of the images, which causes a performance drop of the models. Hypothesizing that the scanner device plays a decisive role in this effect, we evaluated the susceptibility of a standard mitosis detection approach to the domain shift introduced by using a different whole slide scanner. Our work is based on the MICCAI-MIDOG challenge 2021 data set, which includes 200 tumor cases of human breast cancer and four scanners. Our work indicates that the domain shift induced not by biochemical variability but purely by the choice of acquisition device is underestimated so far. Models trained on images of the same scanner yielded an average F1 score of 0.683, while models trained on a single other scanner only yielded an average F1 score of 0.325. Training on another multi-domain mitosis dataset led to mean F1 scores of 0.52. We found this not to be reflected by domain-shifts measured as proxy A distance-derived metric.
* 3 pages, 1 figure, 1 table, submitted as short paper to MIDL