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Semantic-Aware Contrastive Learning for Multi-object Medical Image Segmentation

Posted by on Thursday, August 31, 2023 in Abdomen Imaging, Body-Wise, Computed Tomography, Deep Learning, Image Processing, Image Segmentation, Labeling, Machine Learning.

Ho Hin Lee, Yucheng Tang, Qi Yang, Xin Yu, Leon Y. Cai, Lucas W. Remedios, Shunxing Bao, Bennett A. Landman, Yuankai Huo




Medical image segmentation, or computing voxel-wise semantic masks, is a fundamental yet challenging task in medical imaging domain. To increase the ability of encoder-decoder neural networks to perform this task across large clinical cohorts, contrastive learning provides an opportunity to stabilize model initialization and enhances downstream tasks performance without ground-truth voxel-wise labels. However, multiple target objects with different semantic meanings and contrast level may exist in a single image, which poses a problem for adapting traditional contrastive learning methods from prevalent “image-level classification” to “pixel-level segmentation”. In this paper, we propose a simple semantic-aware contrastive learning approach leveraging attention masks and image-wise labels to advance multi-object semantic segmentation. Briefly, we embed different semantic objects to different clusters rather than the traditional image-level embeddings. We evaluate our proposed method on a multi-organ medical image segmentation task with both in-house data and MICCAI Challenge 2015 BTCV datasets. Compared with current state-of-the-art training strategies, our proposed pipeline yields a substantial improvement of 5.53% and 6.09% on Dice score for both medical image segmentation cohorts respectively (p-value < 0.01). The performance of the proposed method is further assessed on external medical image cohort via MICCAI Challenge FLARE 2021 dataset, and achieves a substantial improvement from Dice 0.922 to 0.933 (p-value < 0.01). The code is available at:

Screenshot 2023-08-31 at 2.50.56 PM