Combining Superpixels and Deep Learning Approaches to Segment Active Organs in Metastatic Breast Cancer PET Images()

Bladder Cancer

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2020 Jul;2020:1536-1539. doi: 10.1109/EMBC44109.2020.9175683.


Semi-automatic measurements are performed on 18FDG PET-CT images to monitor the evolution of metastatic sites in the clinical follow-up of metastatic breast cancer patients. Apart from being time-consuming and prone to subjective approximation, semi-automatic tools cannot make the difference between cancerous regions and active organs, presenting a high 18FDG uptake.In this work, we combine a deep learning-based approach with a superpixel segmentation method to segment the main active organs (brain, heart, bladder) from full-body PET images. In particular, we integrate a superpixel SLIC algorithm at different levels of a convolutional network. Results are compared with a deep learning segmentation network alone. The methods are cross-validated on full-body PET images of 36 patients and tested on the acquisitions of 24 patients from a different study center, in the context of the ongoing EPICUREseinmeta study. The similarity between the manually defined organ masks and the results is evaluated with the Dice score. Moreover, the amount of false positives is evaluated through the positive predictive value (PPV).According to the computed Dice scores, all approaches allow to accurately segment the target organs. However, the networks integrating superpixels are better suited to transfer knowledge across datasets acquired on multiple sites (domain adaptation) and are less likely to segment structures outside of the target organs, according to the PPV.Hence, combining deep learning with superpixels allows to segment organs presenting a high 18FDG uptake on PET images without selecting cancerous lesion, and thus improves the precision of the semi-automatic tools monitoring the evolution of breast cancer metastasis.Clinical relevance- We demonstrate the utility of combining deep learning and superpixel segmentation methods to accurately find the contours of active organs from metastatic breast cancer images, to different dataset distributions.