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In Computers in biology and medicine

BACKGROUND : Dermoscopic image segmentation using deep learning algorithms is a critical technology for skin cancer detection and therapy. Specifically, this technology is a spatially equivariant task and relies heavily on Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), which lost more effective features during cascading down-sampling or up-sampling. Recently, vision isotropic architecture has emerged to eliminate cascade procedures in CNNs as well as demonstrates superior performance. Nevertheless, it cannot be used for the segmentation task directly. Based on these discoveries, this research intends to explore an efficient architecture which not only preserves the advantages of the isotropic architecture but is also suitable for clinical dermoscopic diagnosis.

METHODS : In this work, we introduce a novel Semi-Isotropic L-shaped network (SIL-Net) for dermoscopic image segmentation. First, we propose a Patch Embedding Weak Correlation (PEWC) module to address the issue of no interaction between adjacent patches during the standard Patch Embedding process. Second, a plug-and-play and zero-parameter Residual Spatial Mirror Information (RSMI) path is proposed to supplement effective features during up-sampling and optimize the lesion boundaries. Third, to further reconstruct deep features and get refined lesion regions, a Depth Separable Transpose Convolution (DSTC) based up-sampling module is designed.

RESULTS : The proposed architecture obtains state-of-the-art performance on dermoscopy benchmark datasets ISIC-2017, ISIC-2018 and PH2. Respectively, the Dice coefficient (DICE) of above datasets achieves 89.63%, 93.47%, and 95.11%, where the Mean Intersection over Union (MIoU) are 82.02%, 88.21%, and 90.81%. Furthermore, the robustness and generalizability of our method has been demonstrated through additional experiments on standard intestinal polyp datasets (CVC-ClinicDB and Kvasir-SEG).

CONCLUSION : Our findings demonstrate that SIL-Net not only has great potential for precise segmentation of the lesion region but also exhibits stronger generalizability and robustness, indicating that it meets the requirements for clinical diagnosis. Notably, our method shows state-of-the-art performance on all five datasets, which highlights the effectiveness of the semi-isotropic design mechanism.

Zhang Zequn, Jiang Yun, Qiao Hao, Wang Meiqi, Yan Wei, Chen Jie


Convolutional neural networks, Dermoscopic image segmentation, Patch embedding, Residual path, Semi-isotropic architecture