COVID-19 Infection Segmentation from Chest CT Images Based on Scale Uncertainty

This paper proposes a segmentation method of infection regions in the lung from CT volumes of COVID-19 patients. COVID-19 spread worldwide, causing many infected patients and deaths. CT image-based diagnosis of COVID-19 can provide quick and accurate diagnosis results. An automated segmentation method of infection regions in the lung provides a quantitative criterion for diagnosis. Previous methods employ whole 2D image or 3D volume-based processes. Infection regions have a considerable variation in their sizes. Such processes easily miss small infection regions. Patch-based process is effective for segmenting small targets. However, selecting the appropriate patch size is difficult in infection region segmentation. We utilize the scale uncertainty among various receptive field sizes of a segmentation FCN to obtain infection regions. The receptive field sizes can be defined as the patch size and the resolution of volumes where patches are clipped from. This paper proposes an infection segmentation network (ISNet) that performs patch-based segmentation and a scale uncertainty-aware prediction aggregation method that refines the segmentation result. We design ISNet to segment infection regions that have various intensity values. ISNet has multiple encoding paths to process patch volumes normalized by multiple intensity ranges. We collect prediction results generated by ISNets having various receptive field sizes. Scale uncertainty among the prediction results is extracted by the prediction aggregation method. We use an aggregation FCN to generate a refined segmentation result considering scale uncertainty among the predictions. In our experiments using 199 chest CT volumes of COVID-19 cases, the prediction aggregation method improved the dice similarity score from 47.6% to 62.1%.

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