EAR-U-Net: EfficientNet and attention-based residual U-Net for automatic liver segmentation in CT

3 Oct 2021  ·  Jinke Wang, Xiangyang Zhang, Peiqing Lv, Lubiao Zhou, Haiying Wang ·

Purpose: This paper proposes a new network framework called EAR-U-Net, which leverages EfficientNetB4, attention gate, and residual learning techniques to achieve automatic and accurate liver segmentation. Methods: The proposed method is based on the U-Net framework. First, we use EfficientNetB4 as the encoder to extract more feature information during the encoding stage. Then, an attention gate is introduced in the skip connection to eliminate irrelevant regions and highlight features of a specific segmentation task. Finally, to alleviate the problem of gradient vanishment, we replace the traditional convolution of the decoder with a residual block to improve the segmentation accuracy. Results: We verified the proposed method on the LiTS17 and SLiver07 datasets and compared it with classical networks such as FCN, U-Net, Attention U-Net, and Attention Res-U-Net. In the Sliver07 evaluation, the proposed method achieved the best segmentation performance on all five standard metrics. Meanwhile, in the LiTS17 assessment, the best performance is obtained except for a slight inferior on RVD. Moreover, we also participated in the MICCIA-LiTS17 challenge, and the Dice per case score was 0.952. Conclusion: The proposed method's qualitative and quantitative results demonstrated its applicability in liver segmentation and proved its good prospect in computer-assisted liver segmentation.

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