The Topology-Overlap Trade-Off in Retinal Arteriole-Venule Segmentation

31 Mar 2023  ·  Angel Victor Juanco Muller, Joao F. C. Mota, Keith A. Goatman, Corne Hoogendoorn ·

Retinal fundus images can be an invaluable diagnosis tool for screening epidemic diseases like hypertension or diabetes. And they become especially useful when the arterioles and venules they depict are clearly identified and annotated. However, manual annotation of these vessels is extremely time demanding and taxing, which calls for automatic segmentation. Although convolutional neural networks can achieve high overlap between predictions and expert annotations, they often fail to produce topologically correct predictions of tubular structures. This situation is exacerbated by the bifurcation versus crossing ambiguity which causes classification mistakes. This paper shows that including a topology preserving term in the loss function improves the continuity of the segmented vessels, although at the expense of artery-vein misclassification and overall lower overlap metrics. However, we show that by including an orientation score guided convolutional module, based on the anisotropic single sided cake wavelet, we reduce such misclassification and further increase the topology correctness of the results. We evaluate our model on public datasets with conveniently chosen metrics to assess both overlap and topology correctness, showing that our model is able to produce results on par with state-of-the-art from the point of view of overlap, while increasing topological accuracy.

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