Semi-Supervised Segmentation of Radiation-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis from Lung CT Scans with Multi-Scale Guided Dense Attention

Computed Tomography (CT) plays an important role in monitoring radiation-induced Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF), where accurate segmentation of the PF lesions is highly desired for diagnosis and treatment follow-up. However, the task is challenged by ambiguous boundary, irregular shape, various position and size of the lesions, as well as the difficulty in acquiring a large set of annotated volumetric images for training. To overcome these problems, we propose a novel convolutional neural network called PF-Net and incorporate it into a semi-supervised learning framework based on Iterative Confidence-based Refinement And Weighting of pseudo Labels (I-CRAWL). Our PF-Net combines 2D and 3D convolutions to deal with CT volumes with large inter-slice spacing, and uses multi-scale guided dense attention to segment complex PF lesions. For semi-supervised learning, our I-CRAWL employs pixel-level uncertainty-based confidence-aware refinement to improve the accuracy of pseudo labels of unannotated images, and uses image-level uncertainty for confidence-based image weighting to suppress low-quality pseudo labels in an iterative training process. Extensive experiments with CT scans of Rhesus Macaques with radiation-induced PF showed that: 1) PF-Net achieved higher segmentation accuracy than existing 2D, 3D and 2.5D neural networks, and 2) I-CRAWL outperformed state-of-the-art semi-supervised learning methods for the PF lesion segmentation task. Our method has a potential to improve the diagnosis of PF and clinical assessment of side effects of radiotherapy for lung cancers.

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