Data-Driven Deep Supervision for Medical Image Segmentation

Medical image segmentation plays a vital role in disease diagnosis and analysis. However, data-dependent difficulties such as low image contrast, noisy background, and complicated objects of interest render the segmentation problem challenging. These difficulties diminish dense prediction and make it tough for known approaches to explore data-specific attributes for robust feature extraction. In this paper, we study medical image segmentation by focusing on robust data-specific feature extraction to achieve improved dense prediction. We propose a new deep convolutional neural network (CNN), which exploits specific attributes of input datasets to utilize deep supervision for enhanced feature extraction. In particular, we strategically locate and deploy auxiliary supervision, by matching the object perceptive field (OPF) (which we define and compute) with the layer-wise effective receptive fields (LERF) of the network. This helps the model pay close attention to some distinct input data dependent features, which the network might otherwise ‘ignore’ during training. Further, to achieve better target localization and refined dense prediction, we propose the densely decoded networks (DDN), by selectively introducing additional network connections (the ‘crutch’ connections). Using five public datasets (two retinal vessel, melanoma, optic disc/cup, and spleen segmentation) and two in-house datasets (lymph node and fungus segmentation), we verify the effectiveness of our proposed approach in 2D and 3D segmentation

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