Abdominal multi-organ segmentation with organ-attention networks and statistical fusion

Yan Wang, Yuyin Zhou, Wei Shen, Seyoun Park, Elliot K. Fishman, Alan L. Yuille

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurate and robust segmentation of abdominal organs on CT is essential for many clinical applications such as computer-aided diagnosis and computer-aided surgery. But this task is challenging due to the weak boundaries of organs, the complexity of the background, and the variable sizes of different organs. To address these challenges, we introduce a novel framework for multi-organ segmentation of abdominal regions by using organ-attention networks with reverse connections (OAN-RCs)which are applied to 2D views, of the 3D CT volume, and output estimates which are combined by statistical fusion exploiting structural similarity. More specifically, OAN is a two-stage deep convolutional network, where deep network features from the first stage are combined with the original image, in a second stage, to reduce the complex background and enhance the discriminative information for the target organs. Intuitively, OAN reduces the effect of the complex background by focusing attention so that each organ only needs to be discriminated from its local background. RCs are added to the first stage to give the lower layers more semantic information thereby enabling them to adapt to the sizes of different organs. Our networks are trained on 2D views (slices)enabling us to use holistic information and allowing efficient computation (compared to using 3D patches). To compensate for the limited cross-sectional information of the original 3D volumetric CT, e.g., the connectivity between neighbor slices, multi-sectional images are reconstructed from the three different 2D view directions. Then we combine the segmentation results from the different views using statistical fusion, with a novel term relating the structural similarity of the 2D views to the original 3D structure. To train the network and evaluate results, 13 structures were manually annotated by four human raters and confirmed by a senior expert on 236 normal cases. We tested our algorithm by 4-fold cross-validation and computed Dice–Sørensen similarity coefficients (DSC)and surface distances for evaluating our estimates of the 13 structures. Our experiments show that the proposed approach gives strong results and outperforms 2D- and 3D-patch based state-of-the-art methods in terms of DSC and mean surface distances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-102
Number of pages15
JournalMedical image analysis
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Abdominal CT
  • Multi-organ segmentation
  • Organ-attention network
  • Reverse connection
  • Statistical label fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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