Deep learning methods allow fully automated segmentation of metacarpal bones to quantify volumetric bone mineral density

05/15/2021 βˆ™ by Lukas Folle, et al. βˆ™ 0 βˆ™

Arthritis patients develop hand bone loss, which leads to destruction and functional impairment of the affected joints. High resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) allows the quantification of volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) and bone microstructure in vivo with an isotropic voxel size of 82 micrometres. However, image-processing to obtain bone characteristics is a time-consuming process as it requires semi-automatic segmentation of the bone. In this work, a fully automatic vBMD measurement pipeline for the metacarpal (MC) bone using deep learning methods is introduced. Based on a dataset of HR-pQCT volumes with MC measurements for 541 patients with arthritis, a segmentation network is trained. The best network achieves an intersection over union as high as 0.94 and a Dice similarity coefficient of 0.97 while taking only 33 s to process a whole patient yielding a speedup between 2.5 and 4.0 for the whole workflow. Strong correlation between the vBMD measurements of the expert and of the automatic pipeline are achieved for the average bone density with 0.999 (Pearson) and 0.996 (Spearman’s rank) with 𝑝<0.001 p < 0.001 for all correlations. A qualitative assessment of the network predictions and the manual annotations yields a 65.9% probability that the expert favors the network predictions. Further, the steps to integrate the pipeline into the clinical workflow are shown. In order to make these workflow improvements available to others, we openly share the code of this work.



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