G2C: A Generator-to-Classifier Framework Integrating Multi-Stained Visual Cues for Pathological Glomerulus Classification

Pathological glomerulus classification plays a key role in the diagnosis of nephropathy. As the difference between different subcategories is subtle, doctors often refer to slides from different staining methods to make decisions. However, creating correspondence across various stains is labor-intensive, bringing major difficulties in collecting data and training a vision-based algorithm to assist nephropathy diagnosis. This paper provides an alternative solution for integrating multi-stained visual cues for glomerulus classification. Our approach, named generator-to-classifier (G2C), is a two-stage framework. Given an input image from a specified stain, several generators are first applied to estimate its appearances in other staining methods, and a classifier follows to combine visual cues from different stains for prediction (whether it is pathological, or which type of pathology it has). We optimize these two stages in a joint manner. To provide a reasonable initialization, we pre-train the generators in an unlabeled reference set under an unpaired image-to-image translation task, and then fine-tune them together with the classifier. We conduct experiments on a glomerulus type classification dataset collected by ourselves (there are no publicly available datasets for this purpose). Although joint optimization slightly harms the authenticity of the generated patches, it boosts classification performance, suggesting more effective visual cues are extracted in an automatic way. We also transfer our model to a public dataset for breast cancer classification, and outperform the state-of-the-arts significantly.

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