A Deep Learning-Based Method for Automatic Segmentation of Proximal Femur from Quantitative Computed Tomography Images

Purpose: Proximal femur image analyses based on quantitative computed tomography (QCT) provide a method to quantify the bone density and evaluate osteoporosis and risk of fracture. We aim to develop a deep-learning-based method for automatic proximal femur segmentation. Methods and Materials: We developed a 3D image segmentation method based on V-Net, an end-to-end fully convolutional neural network (CNN), to extract the proximal femur QCT images automatically. The proposed V-net methodology adopts a compound loss function, which includes a Dice loss and a L2 regularizer. We performed experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed segmentation method. In the experiments, a QCT dataset which included 397 QCT subjects was used. For the QCT image of each subject, the ground truth for the proximal femur was delineated by a well-trained scientist. During the experiments for the entire cohort then for male and female subjects separately, 90% of the subjects were used in 10-fold cross-validation for training and internal validation, and to select the optimal parameters of the proposed models; the rest of the subjects were used to evaluate the performance of models. Results: Visual comparison demonstrated high agreement between the model prediction and ground truth contours of the proximal femur portion of the QCT images. In the entire cohort, the proposed model achieved a Dice score of 0.9815, a sensitivity of 0.9852 and a specificity of 0.9992. In addition, an R2 score of 0.9956 (p<0.001) was obtained when comparing the volumes measured by our model prediction with the ground truth. Conclusion: This method shows a great promise for clinical application to QCT and QCT-based finite element analysis of the proximal femur for evaluating osteoporosis and hip fracture risk.

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