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Radiology. 2018 Jul;288(1):177-185. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2018172322. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

Use of 2D U-Net Convolutional Neural Networks for Automated Cartilage and Meniscus Segmentation of Knee MR Imaging Data to Determine Relaxometry and Morphometry.

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From the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and Center for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI), University of California, San Francisco, 1700 Fourth St, Suite 201, QB3 Building, San Francisco, CA 94107.


Purpose To analyze how automatic segmentation translates in accuracy and precision to morphology and relaxometry compared with manual segmentation and increases the speed and accuracy of the work flow that uses quantitative magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to study knee degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA). Materials and Methods This retrospective study involved the analysis of 638 MR imaging volumes from two data cohorts acquired at 3.0 T: (a) spoiled gradient-recalled acquisition in the steady state T1ρ-weighted images and (b) three-dimensional (3D) double-echo steady-state (DESS) images. A deep learning model based on the U-Net convolutional network architecture was developed to perform automatic segmentation. Cartilage and meniscus compartments were manually segmented by skilled technicians and radiologists for comparison. Performance of the automatic segmentation was evaluated on Dice coefficient overlap with the manual segmentation, as well as by the automatic segmentations' ability to quantify, in a longitudinally repeatable way, relaxometry and morphology. Results The models produced strong Dice coefficients, particularly for 3D-DESS images, ranging between 0.770 and 0.878 in the cartilage compartments to 0.809 and 0.753 for the lateral meniscus and medial meniscus, respectively. The models averaged 5 seconds to generate the automatic segmentations. Average correlations between manual and automatic quantification of T1ρ and T2 values were 0.8233 and 0.8603, respectively, and 0.9349 and 0.9384 for volume and thickness, respectively. Longitudinal precision of the automatic method was comparable with that of the manual one. Conclusion U-Net demonstrates efficacy and precision in quickly generating accurate segmentations that can be used to extract relaxation times and morphologic characterization and values that can be used in the monitoring and diagnosis of OA. © RSNA, 2018 Online supplemental material is available for this article.

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