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Automatic Evaluation of Uterine Cervix Segmentations
In this work we focus on the generation of reliable ground truth data for a large medical repository of digital cervicographic images (cervigrams) collected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This work is part of an ongoing effort conducted by NCI together with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a web-based database of the digitized cervix images in order to study the evolution of lesions related to cervical cancer. As part of this effort, NCI has gathered twenty experts to manually segment a set of 933 cervigrams into regions of medical and anatomical interest. This process yields a set of images with multi-expert segmentations. The objectives of the current work are: 1) generate multi-expert ground truth and assess the difficulty of segmenting an image, 2) analyze observer variability in the multi-expert data, and 3) utilize the multi-expert ground truth to evaluate automatic segmentation algorithms. The work is based on STAPLE (Simultaneous Truth and Performance Level Estimation), which is a well known method to generate ground truth segmentation maps from multiple experts' observations. We have analyzed both intra- and inter-expert variability within the segmentation data. We propose novel measures of segmentation complexity by which we can automatically identify cervigrams that were found difficult to segment by the experts, based on their inter-observer variability. Finally, the results are used to assess our own automated algorithm for cervix boundary detection.