Segmentation of Sputum Color Image for Lung Cancer Diagnosis Based on Neural Networks


IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E81-D   No.8   pp.862-871
Publication Date: 1998/08/25
Online ISSN: 
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Image Processing,Computer Graphics and Pattern Recognition
sputum cells,  lung cancer diagnosis,  RGB images,  segmentation,  optimization,   Hopfield neural network,  

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In our current work, we attempt to make an automatic diagnostic system of lung cancer based on the analysis of the sputum color images. In order to form general diagnostic rules, we have collected a database with thousands of sputum color images from normal and abnormal subjects. As a first step, in this paper, we present a segmentation method of sputum color images prepared by the Papanicalaou standard staining method. The segmentation is performed based on an energy function minimization using an unsupervised Hopfield neural network (HNN). This HNN have been used for the segmentation of magnetic resonance images (MRI). The results have been acceptable, however the method have some limitations due to the stuck of the network in an early local minimum because the energy landscape in general has more than one local minimum due to the nonconvex nature of the energy surface. To overcome this problem, we have suggested in our previous work some contributions. Similarly to the MRI images, the color images can be considered as multidimensional data as each pixel is represented by its three components in the RGB image planes. To the input of HNN we have applied the RGB components of several sputum images. However, the extreme variations in the gray-levels of the images and the relative contrast among nuclei due to unavoidable staining variations among individual cells, the cytoplasm folds and the debris cells, make the segmentation less accurate and impossible its automatization as the number of regions is difficult to be estimated in advance. On the other hand, the most important objective in processing cell clusters is the detection and accurate segmentation of the nuclei, because most quantitative procedures are based on measurements of nuclear features. For this reason, based on our collected database of sputum color images, we found an algorithm for NonSputum cell masking. Once these masked images are determined, they are given, with some of the RGB components of the raw image, to the input of HNN to make a crisp segmentation by assigning each pixel to label such as Background, Cytoplasm, and Nucleus. The proposed technique has yielded correct segmentation of complex scene of sputum prepared by ordinary manual staining method in most of the tested images selected from our database containing thousands of sputum color images.