Multi-Center MRI Carotid Plaque Component Segmentation Using Feature Normalization and Transfer Learning

A. van Engelen, A.C. van Dijk, M. T. Truijman, R. van 't Klooster, A. van Opbroek, A. van der Lugt, W.J. Niessen, M.E. Kooi, M. de Bruijne

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Automated segmentation of plaque components in carotid artery MRI is important to enable large studies on plaque vulnerability, and for incorporating plaque composition as an imaging biomarker in clinical practice. Especially supervised classification techniques, which learn from labeled examples, have shown good performance. However, a disadvantage of supervised methods is their reduced performance on data different from the training data, for example on images acquired with different scanners. Reducing the amount of manual annotations required for each new dataset will facilitate widespread implementation of supervised methods. In this paper we segment carotid plaque components of clinical interest (fibrous tissue, lipid tissue, calcification and intraplaque hemorrhage) in a multicenter MRI study. We perform voxelwise tissue classification by traditional same-center training, and compare results with two approaches that use little or no annotated same-center data. These approaches additionally use an annotated set of differentcenter data. We evaluate 1) a non-linear feature normalization approach, and 2) two transfer-learning algorithms that use same and different-center data with different weights. Results showed that the best results were obtained for a combination of feature normalization and transfer learning. While for the other approaches significant differences in voxelwise or mean volume errors were found compared with the reference samecenter training, the proposed approach did not yield significant differences from that reference. We conclude that both extensive feature normalization and transfer learning can be valuable for the development of supervised methods that perform well on different types of datasets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1294-1305
Number of pages12
JournalIeee Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Atherosclerosis
  • carotid
  • classification
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • segmentation
  • transfer learning
  • RISK

Cite this

van Engelen, A., van Dijk, A. C., Truijman, M. T., van 't Klooster, R., van Opbroek, A., van der Lugt, A., Niessen, W. J., Kooi, M. E., & de Bruijne, M. (2015). Multi-Center MRI Carotid Plaque Component Segmentation Using Feature Normalization and Transfer Learning. Ieee Transactions on Medical Imaging, 34(6), 1294-1305.