Evaluation of Enhanced Learning Techniques for Segmenting Ischaemic Stroke Lesions in Brain Magnetic Resonance Perfusion Images using a Convolutional Neural Network Scheme
Magnetic resonance (MR) perfusion imaging non-invasively measures cerebral perfusion, which describes the blood's passage through the brain's vascular network. Therefore it is widely used to assess cerebral ischaemia. Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) constitute the state-of-the-art method in automatic pattern recognition and hence, in segmentation tasks. But none of the CNN architectures developed to date have achieved high accuracy when segmenting ischaemic stroke lesions, being the main reasons their heterogeneity in location, shape, size, image intensity and texture, especially in this imaging modality. We use a freely available CNN framework, developed for MR imaging lesion segmentation, as core algorithm to evaluate the impact of enhanced machine learning techniques, namely data augmentation, transfer learning and post-processing, in the segmentation of stroke lesions using the ISLES 2017 dataset, which contains expert annotated diffusion-weighted perfusion and diffusion brain MRI of 43 stroke patients. Of all the techniques evaluated, data augmentation with binary closing achieved the best results, improving the mean Dice score in 17% over the baseline model. Consistent with previous works, better performance was obtained in the presence of large lesions.
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