ErrorNet: Learning error representations from limited data to improve vascular segmentation

10 Oct 2019  ·  Nima Tajbakhsh, Brian Lai, Shilpa Ananth, Xiaowei Ding ·

Deep convolutional neural networks have proved effective in segmenting lesions and anatomies in various medical imaging modalities. However, in the presence of small sample size and domain shift problems, these models often produce masks with non-intuitive segmentation mistakes. In this paper, we propose a segmentation framework called ErrorNet, which learns to correct these segmentation mistakes through the repeated process of injecting systematic segmentation errors to the segmentation result based on a learned shape prior, followed by attempting to predict the injected error. During inference, ErrorNet corrects the segmentation mistakes by adding the predicted error map to the initial segmentation result. ErrorNet has advantages over alternatives based on domain adaptation or CRF-based post processing, because it requires neither domain-specific parameter tuning nor any data from the target domains. We have evaluated ErrorNet using five public datasets for the task of retinal vessel segmentation. The selected datasets differ in size and patient population, allowing us to evaluate the effectiveness of ErrorNet in handling small sample size and domain shift problems. Our experiments demonstrate that ErrorNet outperforms a base segmentation model, a CRF-based post processing scheme, and a domain adaptation method, with a greater performance gain in the presence of the aforementioned dataset limitations.

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