Explainable Shape Analysis through Deep Hierarchical Generative Models: Application to Cardiac Remodeling

by   Carlo Biffi, et al.

Quantification of anatomical shape changes still relies on scalar global indexes which are largely insensitive to regional or asymmetric modifications. Accurate assessment of pathology-driven anatomical remodeling is a crucial step for the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions. Deep learning approaches have recently achieved wide success in the analysis of medical images, but they lack interpretability in the feature extraction and decision processes. In this work, we propose a new interpretable deep learning model for shape analysis. In particular, we exploit deep generative networks to model a population of anatomical segmentations through a hierarchy of conditional latent variables. At the highest level of this hierarchy, a two-dimensional latent space is simultaneously optimised to discriminate distinct clinical conditions, enabling the direct visualisation of the classification space. Moreover, the anatomical variability encoded by this discriminative latent space can be visualised in the segmentation space thanks to the generative properties of the model, making the classification task transparent. This approach yielded high accuracy in the categorisation of healthy and remodelled hearts when tested on unseen segmentations from our own multi-centre dataset as well as in an external validation set. More importantly, it enabled the visualisation in three-dimensions of the most discriminative anatomical features between the two conditions. The proposed approach scales effectively to large populations, facilitating high-throughput analysis of normal anatomy and pathology in large-scale studies of volumetric imaging.


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