Recurrent Saliency Transformation Network: Incorporating Multi-Stage Visual Cues for Small Organ Segmentation

by   Qihang Yu, et al.

We aim at segmenting small organs (e.g., the pancreas) from abdominal CT scans. As the target often occupies a relatively small region in the input image, deep neural networks can be easily confused by the complex and variable background. To alleviate this, researchers proposed a coarse-to-fine approach, which used prediction from the first (coarse) stage to indicate a smaller input region for the second (fine) stage. Despite its effectiveness, this algorithm dealt with two stages individually, which lacked optimizing a global energy function, and limited its ability to incorporate multi-stage visual cues. Missing contextual information led to unsatisfying convergence in iterations, and that the fine stage sometimes produced even lower segmentation accuracy than the coarse stage. This paper presents a Recurrent Saliency Transformation Network. The key innovation is a saliency transformation module, which repeatedly converts the segmentation probability map from the previous iteration as spatial weights and applies these weights to the current iteration. This brings us two-fold benefits. In training, it allows joint optimization over the deep networks dealing with different input scales. In testing, it propagates multi-stage visual information throughout iterations to improve segmentation accuracy. Experiments in the NIH pancreas segmentation dataset demonstrate the state-of-the-art accuracy, which outperforms the previous best by an average of over 2 larger dataset collected by ourselves. In addition, our approach enjoys better convergence properties, making it more efficient and reliable in practice.


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