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In Medical image analysis

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) broke out at the end of 2019, and has resulted in an ongoing global pandemic. Segmentation of pneumonia infections from chest computed tomography (CT) scans of COVID-19 patients is significant for accurate diagnosis and quantitative analysis. Deep learning-based methods can be developed for automatic segmentation and offer a great potential to strengthen timely quarantine and medical treatment. Unfortunately, due to the urgent nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, a systematic collection of CT data sets for deep neural network training is quite difficult, especially high-quality annotations of multi-category infections are limited. In addition, it is still a challenge to segment the infected areas from CT slices because of the irregular shapes and fuzzy boundaries. To solve these issues, we propose a novel COVID-19 pneumonia lesion segmentation network, called Spatial Self-Attention network (SSA-Net), to identify infected regions from chest CT images automatically. In our SSA-Net, a self-attention mechanism is utilized to expand the receptive field and enhance the representation learning by distilling useful contextual information from deeper layers without extra training time, and spatial convolution is introduced to strengthen the network and accelerate the training convergence. Furthermore, to alleviate the insufficiency of labeled multi-class data and the long-tailed distribution of training data, we present a semi-supervised few-shot iterative segmentation framework based on re-weighting the loss and selecting prediction values with high confidence, which can accurately classify different kinds of infections with a small number of labeled image data. Experimental results show that SSA-Net outperforms state-of-the-art medical image segmentation networks and provides clinically interpretable saliency maps, which are useful for COVID-19 diagnosis and patient triage. Meanwhile, our semi-supervised iterative segmentation model can improve the learning ability in small and unbalanced training set and can achieve higher performance.

Wang Xiaoyan, Yuan Yiwen, Guo Dongyan, Huang Xiaojie, Cui Ying, Xia Ming, Wang Zhenhua, Bai Cong, Chen Shengyong


COVID-19, Few-shot learning, Lesion segmentation, Semi-supervised