A hybrid approach for stain normalisation in digital histopathological images

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Stain in-homogeneity adversely affects segmentation and quantification of tissues in histology images. Stain normalisation techniques have been used to standardise the appearance of images. However, most the available stain normalisation techniques only work on a particular kind of stain images. In addition, some of these techniques fail to utilise both the spatial and textural information in histology images, leading to image tissue distortion. In this paper, a hybrid approach has been developed, based on an octree colour quantisation algorithm combined with the Beer-Lambert law, a modified blind source separation algorithm, and a modified colour transfer approach. The hybrid method consists of two stages the stain separation stage and colour transfer stage. An octree colour quantisation algorithm combined with Beer-Lambert law, and a modified blind source separation algorithm are used during the stain separation stage to computationally estimate the amount of stain in an histology image based on its chromatic and luminous response. A modified colour transfer algorithm is used during the colour transfer stage to minimise the effect of varying staining and illumination. The hybrid method addresses the colour variation problem in both H&DAB (Haemotoxylin and Diaminobenzidine) and H&E (Haemotoxylin and Eosin) stain images. The stain normalisation method is validated against ground truth data. It is widely known that the Beer-Lambert law applies to only stains (such as haematoxylin, eosin) that absorb light. We demonstrate that the Beer-Lambert law applies is applicable to images containing a DAB stain. Better stain normalisation results are obtained in both H&E and H&DAB images.

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Faiza Bukenya acknowledges the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Merit scholarship scheme and University of Nottingham for their generous support. My sincere thanks goes out to Dr. Marie-Christine Pardon and Culi Nerissa (School of Life Science, University of Nottingham) for providing H&DAB stained image slides. My warm thanks goes out to Dr. Abhishek Vahadane for providing H&E stained image slides.

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Bukenya, F. A hybrid approach for stain normalisation in digital histopathological images. Multimed Tools Appl (2019) doi:10.1007/s11042-019-08262-0

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  • Histopathology images
  • Stain normalisation
  • Image processing