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In PeerJ. Computer science

Medical imaging refers to visualization techniques to provide valuable information about the internal structures of the human body for clinical applications, diagnosis, treatment, and scientific research. Segmentation is one of the primary methods for analyzing and processing medical images, which helps doctors diagnose accurately by providing detailed information on the body's required part. However, segmenting medical images faces several challenges, such as requiring trained medical experts and being time-consuming and error-prone. Thus, it appears necessary for an automatic medical image segmentation system. Deep learning algorithms have recently shown outstanding performance for segmentation tasks, especially semantic segmentation networks that provide pixel-level image understanding. By introducing the first fully convolutional network (FCN) for semantic image segmentation, several segmentation networks have been proposed on its basis. One of the state-of-the-art convolutional networks in the medical image field is U-Net. This paper presents a novel end-to-end semantic segmentation model, named Ens4B-UNet, for medical images that ensembles four U-Net architectures with pre-trained backbone networks. Ens4B-UNet utilizes U-Net's success with several significant improvements by adapting powerful and robust convolutional neural networks (CNNs) as backbones for U-Nets encoders and using the nearest-neighbor up-sampling in the decoders. Ens4B-UNet is designed based on the weighted average ensemble of four encoder-decoder segmentation models. The backbone networks of all ensembled models are pre-trained on the ImageNet dataset to exploit the benefit of transfer learning. For improving our models, we apply several techniques for training and predicting, including stochastic weight averaging (SWA), data augmentation, test-time augmentation (TTA), and different types of optimal thresholds. We evaluate and test our models on the 2019 Pneumothorax Challenge dataset, which contains 12,047 training images with 12,954 masks and 3,205 test images. Our proposed segmentation network achieves a 0.8608 mean Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) on the test set, which is among the top one-percent systems in the Kaggle competition.

Abedalla Ayat, Abdullah Malak, Al-Ayyoub Mahmoud, Benkhelifa Elhadj


EfficientNet-B4, Medical image segmentation, Pneumothorax, ResNet-50, SE-ResNext-50, Test-time augmentation, Transfer learning, U-Net