You've Got Two Teachers: Co-evolutionary Image and Report Distillation for Semi-supervised Anatomical Abnormality Detection in Chest X-ray

Chest X-ray (CXR) anatomical abnormality detection aims at localizing and characterising cardiopulmonary radiological findings in the radiographs, which can expedite clinical workflow and reduce observational oversights. Most existing methods attempted this task in either fully supervised settings which demanded costly mass per-abnormality annotations, or weakly supervised settings which still lagged badly behind fully supervised methods in performance. In this work, we propose a co-evolutionary image and report distillation (CEIRD) framework, which approaches semi-supervised abnormality detection in CXR by grounding the visual detection results with text-classified abnormalities from paired radiology reports, and vice versa. Concretely, based on the classical teacher-student pseudo label distillation (TSD) paradigm, we additionally introduce an auxiliary report classification model, whose prediction is used for report-guided pseudo detection label refinement (RPDLR) in the primary vision detection task. Inversely, we also use the prediction of the vision detection model for abnormality-guided pseudo classification label refinement (APCLR) in the auxiliary report classification task, and propose a co-evolution strategy where the vision and report models mutually promote each other with RPDLR and APCLR performed alternatively. To this end, we effectively incorporate the weak supervision by reports into the semi-supervised TSD pipeline. Besides the cross-modal pseudo label refinement, we further propose an intra-image-modal self-adaptive non-maximum suppression, where the pseudo detection labels generated by the teacher vision model are dynamically rectified by high-confidence predictions by the student. Experimental results on the public MIMIC-CXR benchmark demonstrate CEIRD's superior performance to several up-to-date weakly and semi-supervised methods.

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