DOI: 10.3390/diagnostics13152504 ISSN: 2075-4418

A Coarse-to-Fine Fusion Network for Small Liver Tumor Detection and Segmentation: A Real-World Study

Shu Wu, Hang Yu, Cuiping Li, Rencheng Zheng, Xueqin Xia, Chengyan Wang, He Wang
  • Clinical Biochemistry

Liver tumor semantic segmentation is a crucial task in medical image analysis that requires multiple MRI modalities. This paper proposes a novel coarse-to-fine fusion segmentation approach to detect and segment small liver tumors of various sizes. To enhance the segmentation accuracy of small liver tumors, the method incorporates a detection module and a CSR (convolution-SE-residual) module, which includes a convolution block, an SE (squeeze and excitation) module, and a residual module for fine segmentation. The proposed method demonstrates superior performance compared to conventional single-stage end-to-end networks. A private liver MRI dataset comprising 218 patients with a total of 3605 tumors, including 3273 tumors smaller than 3.0 cm, were collected for the proposed method. There are five types of liver tumors identified in this dataset: hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); metastases of the liver; cholangiocarcinoma (ICC); hepatic cyst; and liver hemangioma. The results indicate that the proposed method outperforms the single segmentation networks 3D UNet and nnU-Net as well as the fusion networks of 3D UNet and nnU-Net with nnDetection. The proposed architecture was evaluated on a test set of 44 images, with an average Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) and recall of 86.9% and 86.7%, respectively, which is a 1% improvement compared to the comparison method. More importantly, compared to existing methods, our proposed approach demonstrates state-of-the-art performance in segmenting small objects with sizes smaller than 10 mm, achieving a Dice score of 85.3% and a malignancy detection rate of 87.5%.

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