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Balancing the Role of Priors in Multi-Observer Segmentation Evaluation

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Zhu Y, Huang X, Wang W, Lopresti D, Long LR, Antani SA, Xue Z, Thoma GR
J Signal Process Syst. 2008 May 28;55(1-3):185-207
Abstract: 

Comparison of a group of multiple observer segmentations is known to be a challenging problem. A good segmentation evaluation method would allow different segmentations not only to be compared, but to be combined to generate a "true" segmentation with higher consensus. Numerous multi-observer segmentation evaluation approaches have been proposed in the literature, and STAPLE in particular probabilistically estimates the true segmentation by optimal combination of observed segmentations and a prior model of the truth. An Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm, STAPLE'S convergence to the desired local minima depends on good initializations for the truth prior and the observer-performance prior. However, accurate modeling of the initial truth prior is nontrivial. Moreover, among the two priors, the truth prior always dominates so that in certain scenarios when meaningful observer-performance priors are available, STAPLE can not take advantage of that information. In this paper, we propose a Bayesian decision formulation of the problem that permits the two types of prior knowledge to be integrated in a complementary manner in four cases with differing application purposes: (1) with known truth prior; (2) with observer prior; (3) with neither truth prior nor observer prior; and (4) with both truth prior and observer prior. The third and fourth cases are not discussed (or effectively ignored) by STAPLE, and in our research we propose a new method to combine multiple-observer segmentations based on the maximum a posterior (MAP) principle, which respects the observer prior regardless of the availability of the truth prior. Based on the four scenarios, we have developed a web-based software application that implements the flexible segmentation evaluation framework for digitized uterine cervix images. Experiment results show that our framework has flexibility in effectively integrating different priors for multi-observer segmentation evaluation and it also generates results comparing favorably to those by the STAPLE algorithm and the Majority Vote Rule.

Zhu Y, Huang X, Wang W, Lopresti D, Long LR, Antani SA, Xue Z, Thoma GR. Balancing the Role of Priors in Multi-Observer Segmentation Evaluation J Signal Process Syst. 2008 May 28;55(1-3):185-207