Automatic Liver Lesion Detection using Cascaded Deep Residual Networks

Lei Bi, Jinman Kim, Ashnil Kumar, Dagan Feng

Automatic segmentation of liver lesions is a fundamental requirement towards the creation of computer aided diagnosis (CAD) and decision support systems (CDS). Traditional segmentation approaches depend heavily upon hand-crafted features and a priori knowledge of the user. As such, these methods are difficult to adopt within a clinical environment. Recently, deep learning methods based on fully convolutional networks (FCNs) have been successful in many segmentation problems primarily because they leverage a large labelled dataset to hierarchically learn the features that best correspond to the shallow visual appearance as well as the deep semantics of the areas to be segmented. However, FCNs based on a 16 layer VGGNet architecture have limited capacity to add additional layers. Therefore, it is challenging to learn more discriminative features among different classes for FCNs. In this study, we overcome these limitations using deep residual networks (ResNet) to segment liver lesions. ResNet contain skip connections between convolutional layers, which solved the problem of the training degradation of training accuracy in very deep networks and thereby enables the use of additional layers for learning more discriminative features. In addition, we achieve more precise boundary definitions through a novel cascaded ResNet architecture with multi-scale fusion to gradually learn and infer the boundaries of both the liver and the liver lesions. Our proposed method achieved 4th place in the ISBI 2017 Liver Tumor Segmentation Challenge by the submission deadline.

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