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    Segmentation of corneal endothelium images using a U-Net-based convolutional neural network.

    Artif Intell Med 2018 Apr 18. Epub 2018 Apr 18.
    Institute of Applied Computer Science, Lodz University of Technology, 18/22 Stefanowskiego Str., 90-924 Lodz, Poland. Electronic address:
    Diagnostic information regarding the health status of the corneal endothelium may be obtained by analyzing the size and the shape of the endothelial cells in specular microscopy images. Prior to the analysis, the endothelial cells need to be extracted from the image. Up to today, this has been performed manually or semi-automatically. Several approaches to automatic segmentation of endothelial cells exist; however, none of them is perfect. Therefore this paper proposes to perform cell segmentation using a U-Net-based convolutional neural network. Particularly, the network is trained to discriminate pixels located at the borders between cells. The edge probability map outputted by the network is next binarized and skeletonized in order to obtain one-pixel wide edges. The proposed solution was tested on a dataset consisting of 30 corneal endothelial images presenting cells of different sizes, achieving an AUROC level of 0.92. The resulting DICE is on average equal to 0.86, which is a good result, regarding the thickness of the compared edges. The corresponding mean absolute percentage error of cell number is at the level of 4.5% which confirms the high accuracy of the proposed approach. The resulting cell edges are well aligned to the ground truths and require a limited number of manual corrections. This also results in accurate values of the cell morphometric parameters. The corresponding errors range from 5.2% for endothelial cell density, through 6.2% for cell hexagonality to 11.93% for the coefficient of variation of the cell size.
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