CKD-TransBTS: Clinical Knowledge-Driven Hybrid Transformer with Modality-Correlated Cross-Attention for Brain Tumor Segmentation

Brain tumor segmentation (BTS) in magnetic resonance image (MRI) is crucial for brain tumor diagnosis, cancer management and research purposes. With the great success of the ten-year BraTS challenges as well as the advances of CNN and Transformer algorithms, a lot of outstanding BTS models have been proposed to tackle the difficulties of BTS in different technical aspects. However, existing studies hardly consider how to fuse the multi-modality images in a reasonable manner. In this paper, we leverage the clinical knowledge of how radiologists diagnose brain tumors from multiple MRI modalities and propose a clinical knowledge-driven brain tumor segmentation model, called CKD-TransBTS. Instead of directly concatenating all the modalities, we re-organize the input modalities by separating them into two groups according to the imaging principle of MRI. A dual-branch hybrid encoder with the proposed modality-correlated cross-attention block (MCCA) is designed to extract the multi-modality image features. The proposed model inherits the strengths from both Transformer and CNN with the local feature representation ability for precise lesion boundaries and long-range feature extraction for 3D volumetric images. To bridge the gap between Transformer and CNN features, we propose a Trans&CNN Feature Calibration block (TCFC) in the decoder. We compare the proposed model with five CNN-based models and six transformer-based models on the BraTS 2021 challenge dataset. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed model achieves state-of-the-art brain tumor segmentation performance compared with all the competitors.

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