ssVERDICT: Self-Supervised VERDICT-MRI for Enhanced Prostate Tumour Characterisation

by   Snigdha Sen, et al.

MRI is increasingly being used in the diagnosis of prostate cancer (PCa), with diffusion MRI (dMRI) playing an integral role. When combined with computational models, dMRI can estimate microstructural information such as cell size. Conventionally, such models are fit with a nonlinear least squares (NLLS) curve fitting approach, associated with a high computational cost. Supervised deep neural networks (DNNs) are an efficient alternative, however their performance is significantly affected by the underlying distribution of the synthetic training data. Self-supervised learning is an attractive alternative, where instead of using a separate training dataset, the network learns the features of the input data itself. This approach has only been applied to fitting of trivial dMRI models thus far. Here, we introduce a self-supervised DNN to estimate the parameters of the VERDICT (Vascular, Extracellular and Restricted DIffusion for Cytometry in Tumours) model for prostate. We demonstrate, for the first time, fitting of a complex three-compartment biophysical model with machine learning without the requirement of explicit training labels. We compare the estimation performance to baseline NLLS and supervised DNN methods, observing improvement in estimation accuracy and reduction in bias with respect to ground truth values. Our approach also achieves a higher confidence level for discrimination between cancerous and benign prostate tissue in comparison to the other methods on a dataset of 20 PCa patients, indicating potential for accurate tumour characterisation.


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