PA-ResSeg: A Phase Attention Residual Network for Liver Tumor Segmentation from Multi-phase CT Images

In this paper, we propose a phase attention residual network (PA-ResSeg) to model multi-phase features for accurate liver tumor segmentation, in which a phase attention (PA) is newly proposed to additionally exploit the images of arterial (ART) phase to facilitate the segmentation of portal venous (PV) phase. The PA block consists of an intra-phase attention (Intra-PA) module and an inter-phase attention (Inter-PA) module to capture channel-wise self-dependencies and cross-phase interdependencies, respectively. Thus it enables the network to learn more representative multi-phase features by refining the PV features according to the channel dependencies and recalibrating the ART features based on the learned interdependencies between phases. We propose a PA-based multi-scale fusion (MSF) architecture to embed the PA blocks in the network at multiple levels along the encoding path to fuse multi-scale features from multi-phase images. Moreover, a 3D boundary-enhanced loss (BE-loss) is proposed for training to make the network more sensitive to boundaries. To evaluate the performance of our proposed PA-ResSeg, we conducted experiments on a multi-phase CT dataset of focal liver lesions (MPCT-FLLs). Experimental results show the effectiveness of the proposed method by achieving a dice per case (DPC) of 0.77.87, a dice global (DG) of 0.8682, a volumetric overlap error (VOE) of 0.3328 and a relative volume difference (RVD) of 0.0443 on the MPCT-FLLs. Furthermore, to validate the effectiveness and robustness of PA-ResSeg, we conducted extra experiments on another multi-phase liver tumor dataset and obtained a DPC of 0.8290, a DG of 0.9132, a VOE of 0.2637 and a RVD of 0.0163. The proposed method shows its robustness and generalization capability in different datasets and different backbones.

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