Semantic segmentation to identify bladder layers from H&E Images

Bladder Cancer

Diagn Pathol. 2020 Jul 16;15(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s13000-020-01002-1.


BACKGROUND: Identification of bladder layers is a necessary prerequisite to bladder cancer diagnosis and prognosis. We present a method of multi-class image segmentation, which recognizes urothelium, lamina propria, muscularis propria, and muscularis mucosa layers as well as regions of red blood cells, cauterized tissue, and inflamed tissue from images of hematoxylin and eosin stained slides of bladder biopsies.

METHODS: Segmentation is carried out using a U-Net architecture. The number of layers was either, eight, ten, or twelve and combined with a weight initializers of He uniform, He normal, Glorot uniform, and Glorot normal. The most optimal of these parameters was found by through a seven-fold training, validation, and testing of a dataset of 39 whole slide images of T1 bladder biopsies.

RESULTS: The most optimal model was a twelve layer U-net using He normal initializer. Initial visual evaluation by an experienced pathologist on an independent set of 15 slides segmented by our method yielded an average score of 8.93 ± 0.6 out of 10 for segmentation accuracy. It took only 23 min for the pathologist to review 15 slides (1.53 min/slide) with the computer annotations. To assess the generalizability of the proposed model, we acquired an additional independent set of 53 whole slide images and segmented them using our method. Visual examination by a different experienced pathologist yielded an average score of 8.87 ± 0.63 out of 10 for segmentation accuracy.

CONCLUSIONS: Our preliminary findings suggest that predictions of our model can minimize the time needed by pathologists to annotate slides. Moreover, the method has the potential to identify the bladder layers accurately. Further development can assist the pathologist with the diagnosis of T1 bladder cancer.