Robust Brain Magnetic Resonance Image Segmentation for Hydrocephalus Patients: Hard and Soft Attention

Brain magnetic resonance (MR) segmentation for hydrocephalus patients is considered as a challenging work. Encoding the variation of the brain anatomical structures from different individuals cannot be easily achieved. The task becomes even more difficult especially when the image data from hydrocephalus patients are considered, which often have large deformations and differ significantly from the normal subjects. Here, we propose a novel strategy with hard and soft attention modules to solve the segmentation problems for hydrocephalus MR images. Our main contributions are three-fold: 1) the hard-attention module generates coarse segmentation map using multi-atlas-based method and the VoxelMorph tool, which guides subsequent segmentation process and improves its robustness; 2) the soft-attention module incorporates position attention to capture precise context information, which further improves the segmentation accuracy; 3) we validate our method by segmenting insula, thalamus and many other regions-of-interests (ROIs) that are critical to quantify brain MR images of hydrocephalus patients in real clinical scenario. The proposed method achieves much improved robustness and accuracy when segmenting all 17 consciousness-related ROIs with high variations for different subjects. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work to employ deep learning for solving the brain segmentation problems of hydrocephalus patients.

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