RIL-Contour: a Medical Imaging Dataset Annotation Tool for and with Deep Learning

J Digit Imaging. 2019 Aug;32(4):571-581. doi: 10.1007/s10278-019-00232-0.


Deep-learning algorithms typically fall within the domain of supervised artificial intelligence and are designed to "learn" from annotated data. Deep-learning models require large, diverse training datasets for optimal model convergence. The effort to curate these datasets is widely regarded as a barrier to the development of deep-learning systems. We developed RIL-Contour to accelerate medical image annotation for and with deep-learning. A major goal driving the development of the software was to create an environment which enables clinically oriented users to utilize deep-learning models to rapidly annotate medical imaging. RIL-Contour supports using fully automated deep-learning methods, semi-automated methods, and manual methods to annotate medical imaging with voxel and/or text annotations. To reduce annotation error, RIL-Contour promotes the standardization of image annotations across a dataset. RIL-Contour accelerates medical imaging annotation through the process of annotation by iterative deep learning (AID). The underlying concept of AID is to iteratively annotate, train, and utilize deep-learning models during the process of dataset annotation and model development. To enable this, RIL-Contour supports workflows in which multiple-image analysts annotate medical images, radiologists approve the annotations, and data scientists utilize these annotations to train deep-learning models. To automate the feedback loop between data scientists and image analysts, RIL-Contour provides mechanisms to enable data scientists to push deep newly trained deep-learning models to other users of the software. RIL-Contour and the AID methodology accelerate dataset annotation and model development by facilitating rapid collaboration between analysts, radiologists, and engineers.

Keywords: Annotation by iterative deep learing (AID); Classification; Deep-learning; Medical image annotation; Segmentation; Software tools.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Datasets as Topic*
  • Deep Learning*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Radiology Information Systems*