Echocardiographic Image Quality Assessment Using Deep Neural Networks
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Echocardiography image quality assessment is not a trivial issue in transthoracic examination. As the in vivo examination of heart structures gained prominence in cardiac diagnosis, it has been affirmed that accurate diagnosis of the left ventricle functions is hugely dependent on the quality of echo images. Up till now, visual assessment of echo images is highly subjective and requires specific definition under clinical pathologies. While poor-quality images impair quantifications and diagnosis, the inherent variations in echocardiographic image quality standards indicates the complexity faced among different observers and provides apparent evidence for incoherent assessment under clinical trials, especially with less experienced cardiologists. In this research, our aim was to analyse and define specific quality attributes mostly discussed by experts and present a fully trained convolutional neural network model for assessing such quality features objectively. A total of 1,650 anonymized B-Mode images with dissimilar frame lengths were stratified from most popular ultrasound vendors equipment and clinical quality scores were provided for each echo cine by Cardiologists at England's Hammersmith Hospital which fed our multi-stream architecture model. The regression model assesses the quality features for depth-gain, chamber clarity, interventricular (on-Axis) orientation and foreshortening of the left ventricle. Four independent scores are thus displayed on each frame which compares against cardiologists' manually assigned scores to validate the degree of objective accuracy or its absolute errors. Absolute errors were found to be ±0.02 and ±0.12 for model and inter observer variability, respectively. We achieved a computation speed of 0.0095 ms per frame on GeForce 970, with feasibility for 2D/3D real-time deployment. The research outcome establishes the modality for the objective standardization of 2D echocardiographic image quality and provides a consistent objective scoring mechanism for echo image reliability and diagnosis.
KeywordsMedical imaging Echocardiography Quality assessment
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