Healthy kidney segmentation in the dce-mr images using a convolutional neural network and temporal signal characteristics
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSensors. 2021, 21 (20), 6714. 10.3390/s21206714
Quantification of renal perfusion based on dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) requires determination of signal intensity time courses in the region of renal parenchyma. Thus, selection of voxels representing the kidney must be accomplished with special care and constitutes one of the major technical limitations which hampers wider usage of this technique as a standard clinical routine. Manual segmentation of renal compartments—even if performed by experts—is a common source of decreased repeatability and reproducibility. In this paper, we present a processing framework for the automatic kidney segmentation in DCE-MR images. The framework consists of two stages. Firstly, kidney masks are generated using a convolutional neural network. Then, mask voxels are classified to one of three regions—cortex, medulla, and pelvis–based on DCE-MRI signal intensity time courses. The proposed approach was evaluated on a cohort of 10 healthy volunteers who underwent the DCE-MRI examination. MRI scanning was repeated on two time events within a 10-day interval. For semantic segmentation task we employed a classic U-Net architecture, whereas experiments on voxel classification were performed using three alternative algorithms—support vector machines, logistic regression and extreme gradient boosting trees, among which SVM produced the most accurate results. Both segmentation and classification steps were accomplished by a series of models, each trained separately for a given subject using the data from other participants only. The mean achieved accuracy of the whole kidney segmentation was 94% in terms of IoU coefficient. Cortex, medulla and pelvis were segmented with IoU ranging from 90 to 93% depending on the tissue and body side. The results were also validated by comparing image-derived perfusion parameters with ground truth measurements of glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The repeatability of GFR calculation, as assessed by the coefficient of variation was determined at the level of 14.5 and 17.5% for the left and right kidney, respectively and it improved relative to manual segmentation. Reproduciblity, in turn, was evaluated by measuring agreement between image-derived and iohexol-based GFR values. The estimated absolute mean differences were equal to 9.4 and 12.9 mL/min/1.73 m2 for scanning sessions 1 and 2 and the proposed automated segmentation method. The result for session 2 was comparable with manual segmentation, whereas for session 1 reproducibility in the automatic pipeline was weaker.