Deep distance transform for tubular structure segmentation in CT scans

Yan Wang, Xu Wei, Fengze Liu, Jieneng Chen, Yuyin Zhou, Wei Shen, Elliot K. Fishman, Alan L. Yuille

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Tubular structure segmentation in medical images, e.g., segmenting vessels in CT scans, serves as a vital step in the use of computers to aid in screening early stages of related diseases. But automatic tubular structure segmentation in CT scans is a challenging problem, due to issues such as poor contrast, noise and complicated background. A tubular structure usually has a cylinder-like shape which can be well represented by its skeleton and cross-sectional radii (scales). Inspired by this, we propose a geometry-aware tubular structure segmentation method, Deep Distance Transform (DDT), which combines intuitions from the classical distance transform for skeletonization and modern deep segmentation networks. DDT first learns a multitask network to predict a segmentation mask for a tubular structure and a distance map. Each value in the map represents the distance from each tubular structure voxel to the tubular structure surface. Then the segmentation mask is refined by leveraging the shape prior reconstructed from the distance map. We apply our DDT on six medical image datasets. Results show that (1) DDT can boost tubular structure segmentation performance significantly (e.g., over 13% DSC improvement for pancreatic duct segmentation), and (2) DDT additionally provides a geometrical measurement for a tubular structure, which is important for clinical diagnosis (e.g., the cross-sectional scale of a pancreatic duct can be an indicator for pancreatic cancer).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9156680
Pages (from-to)3832-3841
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
StatePublished - 2020
Event2020 IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, CVPR 2020 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2020Jun 19 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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