Fully automated plaque characterization in intravascular OCT images using hybrid convolutional and lumen morphology features

Sci Rep. 2020 Feb 13;10(1):2596. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-59315-6.


For intravascular OCT (IVOCT) images, we developed an automated atherosclerotic plaque characterization method that used a hybrid learning approach, which combined deep-learning convolutional and hand-crafted, lumen morphological features. Processing was done on innate A-line units with labels fibrolipidic (fibrous tissue followed by lipidous tissue), fibrocalcific (fibrous tissue followed by calcification), or other. We trained/tested on an expansive data set (6,556 images), and performed an active learning, relabeling step to improve noisy ground truth labels. Conditional random field was an important post-processing step to reduce classification errors. Sensitivities/specificities were 84.8%/97.8% and 91.4%/95.7% for fibrolipidic and fibrocalcific plaques, respectively. Over lesions, en face classification maps showed automated results that agreed favorably to manually labeled counterparts. Adding lumen morphological features gave statistically significant improvement (p < 0.05), as compared to classification with convolutional features alone. Automated assessments of clinically relevant plaque attributes (arc angle and length), compared favorably to those from manual labels. Our hybrid approach gave statistically improved results as compared to previous A-line classification methods using deep learning or hand-crafted features alone. This plaque characterization approach is fully automated, robust, and promising for live-time treatment planning and research applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Deep Learning*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / classification
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*