SegAN: Adversarial Network with Multi-scale $L_1$ Loss for Medical Image Segmentation

Yuan Xue, Tao Xu, Han Zhang, Rodney Long, Xiaolei Huang

Inspired by classic generative adversarial networks (GAN), we propose a novel end-to-end adversarial neural network, called SegAN, for the task of medical image segmentation. Since image segmentation requires dense, pixel-level labeling, the single scalar real/fake output of a classic GAN's discriminator may be ineffective in producing stable and sufficient gradient feedback to the networks. Instead, we use a fully convolutional neural network as the segmentor to generate segmentation label maps, and propose a novel adversarial critic network with a multi-scale $L_1$ loss function to force the critic and segmentor to learn both global and local features that capture long- and short-range spatial relationships between pixels. In our SegAN framework, the segmentor and critic networks are trained in an alternating fashion in a min-max game: The critic takes as input a pair of images, (original_image $*$ predicted_label_map, original_image $*$ ground_truth_label_map), and then is trained by maximizing a multi-scale loss function; The segmentor is trained with only gradients passed along by the critic, with the aim to minimize the multi-scale loss function. We show that such a SegAN framework is more effective and stable for the segmentation task, and it leads to better performance than the state-of-the-art U-net segmentation method. We tested our SegAN method using datasets from the MICCAI BRATS brain tumor segmentation challenge. Extensive experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed SegAN with multi-scale loss: on BRATS 2013 SegAN gives performance comparable to the state-of-the-art for whole tumor and tumor core segmentation while achieves better precision and sensitivity for Gd-enhance tumor core segmentation; on BRATS 2015 SegAN achieves better performance than the state-of-the-art in both dice score and precision.

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