Bone age assessment (BAA) is an essential topic in the clinical practice of evaluating the biological maturity of children. Because the manual method is time-consuming and prone to observer variability, it is attractive to develop computer-aided and automated methods for BAA. In this paper, we present a fully automatic BAA method. To eliminate noise in a raw X-ray image, we start with using U-Net to precisely segment hand mask image from a raw X-ray image. Even though U-Net can perform the segmentation with high precision, it needs a bigger annotated dataset. To alleviate the annotation burden, we propose to use deep active learning (AL) to select unlabeled data samples with sufficient information intentionally. These samples are given to Oracle for annotation. After that, they are then used for subsequential training. In the beginning, only 300 data are manually annotated and then the improved U-Net within the AL framework can robustly segment all the 12611 images in RSNA dataset. The AL segmentation model achieved a Dice score at 0.95 in the annotated testing set. To optimize the learning process, we employ six off-the-shell deep Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) with pretrained weights on ImageNet. We use them to extract features of preprocessed hand images with a transfer learning technique. In the end, a variety of ensemble regression algorithms are applied to perform BAA. Besides, we choose a specific CNN to extract features and explain why we select that CNN. Experimental results show that the proposed approach achieved discrepancy between manual and predicted bone age of about 6.96 and 7.35 months for male and female cohorts, respectively, on the RSNA dataset. These accuracies are comparable to state-of-the-art performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging