Detecting Scatteredly-Distributed, Small, andCritically Important Objects in 3D OncologyImaging via Decision Stratification

05/27/2020 ∙ by Zhuotun Zhu, et al. ∙ 4

Finding and identifying scatteredly-distributed, small, and critically important objects in 3D oncology images is very challenging. We focus on the detection and segmentation of oncology-significant (or suspicious cancer metastasized) lymph nodes (OSLNs), which has not been studied before as a computational task. Determining and delineating the spread of OSLNs is essential in defining the corresponding resection/irradiating regions for the downstream workflows of surgical resection and radiotherapy of various cancers. For patients who are treated with radiotherapy, this task is performed by experienced radiation oncologists that involves high-level reasoning on whether LNs are metastasized, which is subject to high inter-observer variations. In this work, we propose a divide-and-conquer decision stratification approach that divides OSLNs into tumor-proximal and tumor-distal categories. This is motivated by the observation that each category has its own different underlying distributions in appearance, size and other characteristics. Two separate detection-by-segmentation networks are trained per category and fused. To further reduce false positives (FP), we present a novel global-local network (GLNet) that combines high-level lesion characteristics with features learned from localized 3D image patches. Our method is evaluated on a dataset of 141 esophageal cancer patients with PET and CT modalities (the largest to-date). Our results significantly improve the recall from 45% to 67% at 3 FPs per patient as compared to previous state-of-the-art methods. The highest achieved OSLN recall of 0.828 is clinically relevant and valuable.

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