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In Medical physics ; h5-index 59.0

BACKGROUND : Osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH) is characterized as bone cell death in the hip joint, involving a severe pain in the groin. The staging of ONFH is commonly based on MRI and CT, which are important for establishing effective treatment plans. There have been some attempts to automate ONFH staging using deep learning, but few of them used only MR images.

PURPOSE : To propose a deep learning model for MR-only ONFH staging, which can reduce additional cost and radiation exposure from the acquisition of CT images.

METHODS : We integrated information from the MR images of five different imaging protocols by a newly proposed attention fusion method, which was composed of intra-modality attention and inter-modality attention. In addition, a self-supervised learning was used to learn deep representations from a large amount of paired MR-CT dataset. The encoder part of the MR-CT translation network was used as a pretraining network for the staging, which aimed to overcome the lack of annotated data for staging. Ablation studies were performed to investigate the contributions of each proposed method. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) was used to evaluate the performance of the networks.

RESULTS : Our model improved the performance of the four-way classification of the association research circulation osseous (ARCO) stage using MR images of the multiple protocols by 6.8%p in AUROC over a plain VGG network. Each proposed method increased the performance by 4.7%p (self-supervised learning) and 2.6%p (attention fusion) in AUROC, which was demonstrated by the ablation experiments.

CONCLUSIONS : We have shown the feasibility of the MR-only ONFH staging by using self-supervised learning and attention fusion. A large amount of paired MR-CT data in hospitals can be used to further improve the performance of the staging, and the proposed method has potential to be used in the diagnosis of various diseases that require staging from multiple MR protocols. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Kim Bomin, Lee Geun Young, Park Sung-Hong


attention fusion, mr-only staging, multiple mr protocols, osteonecrosis of femoral head, self-supervised learning