Anatomic Point-Based Lung Region with Zone Identification for Radiologist Annotation and Machine Learning for Chest Radiographs

J Digit Imaging. 2021 Aug;34(4):922-931. doi: 10.1007/s10278-021-00494-7. Epub 2021 Jul 29.


Our objective is to investigate the reliability and usefulness of anatomic point-based lung zone segmentation on chest radiographs (CXRs) as a reference standard framework and to evaluate the accuracy of automated point placement. Two hundred frontal CXRs were presented to two radiologists who identified five anatomic points: two at the lung apices, one at the top of the aortic arch, and two at the costophrenic angles. Of these 1000 anatomic points, 161 (16.1%) were obscured (mostly by pleural effusions). Observer variations were investigated. Eight anatomic zones then were automatically generated from the manually placed anatomic points, and a prototype algorithm was developed using the point-based lung zone segmentation to detect cardiomegaly and levels of diaphragm and pleural effusions. A trained U-Net neural network was used to automatically place these five points within 379 CXRs of an independent database. Intra- and inter-observer variation in mean distance between corresponding anatomic points was larger for obscured points (8.7 mm and 20 mm, respectively) than for visible points (4.3 mm and 7.6 mm, respectively). The computer algorithm using the point-based lung zone segmentation could diagnostically measure the cardiothoracic ratio and diaphragm position or pleural effusion. The mean distance between corresponding points placed by the radiologist and by the neural network was 6.2 mm. The network identified 95% of the radiologist-indicated points with only 3% of network-identified points being false-positives. In conclusion, a reliable anatomic point-based lung segmentation method for CXRs has been developed with expected utility for establishing reference standards for machine learning applications.

Keywords: Anatomic Points; Chest Radiography; Point-Based Lung Zone Segmentation; Reference Standard; U-Net Neural Network.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung* / diagnostic imaging
  • Machine Learning
  • Radiography, Thoracic*
  • Radiologists
  • Reproducibility of Results