Anatomy X-Net: A Semi-Supervised Anatomy Aware Convolutional Neural Network for Thoracic Disease Classification

Uday Kamal, Mohammad Zunaed, Nusrat Binta Nizam, Taufiq Hasan

Thoracic disease detection from chest radiographs using deep learning methods has been an active area of research in the last decade. Most previous methods attempt to focus on the diseased organs of the image by identifying spatial regions responsible for significant contributions to the model's prediction. In contrast, expert radiologists first locate the prominent anatomical structures before determining if those regions are anomalous. Therefore, integrating anatomical knowledge within deep learning models could bring substantial improvement in automatic disease classification. This work proposes an anatomy-aware attention-based architecture named Anatomy X-Net, that prioritizes the spatial features guided by the pre-identified anatomy regions. We leverage a semi-supervised learning method using the JSRT dataset containing organ-level annotation to obtain the anatomical segmentation masks (for lungs and heart) for the NIH and CheXpert datasets. The proposed Anatomy X-Net uses the pre-trained DenseNet-121 as the backbone network with two corresponding structured modules, the Anatomy Aware Attention (AAA) and Probabilistic Weighted Average Pooling (PWAP), in a cohesive framework for anatomical attention learning. Our proposed method sets new state-of-the-art performance on the official NIH test set with an AUC score of 0.8439, proving the efficacy of utilizing the anatomy segmentation knowledge to improve the thoracic disease classification. Furthermore, the Anatomy X-Net yields an averaged AUC of 0.9020 on the Stanford CheXpert dataset, improving on existing methods that demonstrate the generalizability of the proposed framework.

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