NISF: Neural Implicit Segmentation Functions

Segmentation of anatomical shapes from medical images has taken an important role in the automation of clinical measurements. While typical deep-learning segmentation approaches are performed on discrete voxels, the underlying objects being analysed exist in a real-valued continuous space. Approaches that rely on convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are limited to grid-like inputs and not easily applicable to sparse or partial measurements. We propose a novel family of image segmentation models that tackle many of CNNs' shortcomings: Neural Implicit Segmentation Functions (NISF). Our framework takes inspiration from the field of neural implicit functions where a network learns a mapping from a real-valued coordinate-space to a shape representation. NISFs have the ability to segment anatomical shapes in high-dimensional continuous spaces. Training is not limited to voxelized grids, and covers applications with sparse and partial data. Interpolation between observations is learnt naturally in the training procedure and requires no post-processing. Furthermore, NISFs allow the leveraging of learnt shape priors to make predictions for regions outside of the original image plane. We go on to show the framework achieves dice scores of 0.87 $\pm$ 0.045 on a (3D+t) short-axis cardiac segmentation task using the UK Biobank dataset. We also provide a qualitative analysis on our frameworks ability to perform segmentation and image interpolation on unseen regions of an image volume at arbitrary resolutions.

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