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Painless and accurate medical image analysis using deep reinforcement learning with task−oriented homogenized automatic pre−processing

Di Yuan‚ Yunxin Liu‚ Zhenghua Xu‚ Yuefu Zhan‚ Junyang Chen and Thomas Lukasiewicz


Pre-processing is widely applied in medical image analysis to remove the interference information. However, the existing pre-processing solutions mainly encounter two problems: (i) it is heavily relied on the assistance of clinical experts, making it hard for intelligent CAD systems to deploy quickly; (ii) due to the personnel and information barriers, it is difficult for medical institutions to conduct the same pre-processing operations, making a deep model that performs well on a specific medical institution difficult to achieve similar performances on the same task in other medical institutions. To overcome these problems, we propose a deep-reinforcement-learning-based task-oriented homogenized automatic pre-processing (DRL-HAPre) framework to overcome these two problems. This framework utilizes deep reinforcement learning techniques to learn a policy network to automatically and adaptively select the optimal pre-processing operations for the input medical images according to different analysis tasks, thus helping the intelligent CAD system to achieve a rapid deployment (i.e., painless) and maintain a satisfactory performance (i.e., accurate) among different medical institutes. To verify the effectiveness and advantages of the proposed DRL-HAPre framework, we further develop a homogenized automatic pre-processing model based on the DRL-HAPre framework to realize the automatic pre-processing of key region selection (called HAPre-KRS) in the pneumonia image classification task. Extensive experimental studies are conducted on three pediatric pneumonia classification datasets with different image qualities, and the results show that: (i) There does exist a hard-to-reproduce problem in clinical practices and the fact that having different medical image qualities in different medical institutes is an important reason for the existing of hard-to-reproduce problem, so it is compelling to propose homogenized automatic pre-processing method. (ii) The proposed HAPre-KRS model and DRL-HAPre framework greatly outperform three kinds of state-of-the-art baselines (i.e., pre-processing, attention and pneumonia baseline), and the lower the medical image quality, the greater the improvements of using our HAPre-KRS model and DRL-HAPre framework. (iii) With the help of homogenized pre-processing, HAPre-KRS (and DRL-HAPre framework) can greatly avoid performance degradation in real-world cross-source applications (i.e., thus overcoming the hard-to-reproduce problem).

Computers in Biology and Medicine
Homogenized automatic pre−processing‚ Deep reinforcement learning‚ Medical image analysis‚ Policy gradient‚ Pediatric pneumonia classification