Contextual computer-aided detection: Improving bright lesion detection in retinal images and coronary calcification identification in CT scans

C. Sánchez, M. Niemeijer, I. Išgum, A. Dumitrescu, M. Suttorp-Schulten, M. Abràmoff and B. van Ginneken

Medical Image Analysis 2012;16:50-62.



Contextual information plays an important role in medical image understanding. Medical experts make use of context to detect and differentiate pathologies in medical images, especially when interpreting difficult cases. The majority of computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) systems, however, employ only local information to classify candidates, without taking into account global image information or the relation of a candidate with neighboring structures. In this paper, we present a generic system for including contextual information in a CAD system. Context is described by means of high-level features based on the spatial relation between lesion candidates and surrounding anatomical landmarks and lesions of different classes (static contextual features) and lesions of the same type (dynamic contextual features). We demonstrate the added value of contextual CAD for two real-world CAD tasks: the identification of exudates and drusen in 2D retinal images and coronary calcifications in 3D computed tomography scans. Results show that in both applications contextual CAD is superior to a local CAD approach with a significant increase of the figure of merit of the Free Receiver Operating Characteristic curve from 0.84 to 0.92 and from 0.88 to 0.98 for exudates and drusen, respectively, and from 0.87 to 0.93 for coronary calcifications.