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    Brain lesion segmentation provides a valuable tool for clinical diagnosis and research, and convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have achieved unprecedented success in the segmentation task. Data augmentation is a widely used strategy to improve the training of CNNs. In particular, data augmentation approaches that mix pairs of annotated training images have been developed. These methods are easy to implement and have achieved promising results in various image processing tasks. However, existing data augmentation approaches based on image mixing are not designed for brain lesions and may not perform well for brain lesion segmentation. Thus, the design of this type of simple data augmentation method for brain lesion segmentation is still an open problem. In this work, we propose a simple yet effective data augmentation approach, dubbed as CarveMix, for CNN-based brain lesion segmentation. Like other mixing-based methods, CarveMix stochastically combines two existing annotated images (annotated for brain lesions only) to obtain new labeled samples. To make our method more suitable for brain lesion segmentation, CarveMix is lesion-aware, where the image combination is performed with a focus on the lesions and preserves the lesion information. Specifically, from one annotated image we carve a region of interest (ROI) according to the lesion location and geometry with a variable ROI size. The carved ROI then replaces the corresponding voxels in a second annotated image to synthesize new labeled images for network training, and additional harmonization steps are applied for heterogeneous data where the two annotated images can originate from different sources. Besides, we further propose to model the mass effect that is unique to whole brain tumor segmentation during image mixing. To evaluate the proposed method, experiments were performed on multiple publicly available or private datasets, and the results show that our method improves the accuracy of brain lesion segmentation. The code of the proposed method is available at Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Xinru Zhang, Chenghao Liu, Ni Ou, Xiangzhu Zeng, Zhizheng Zhuo, Yunyun Duan, Xiaoliang Xiong, Yizhou Yu, Zhiwen Liu, Yaou Liu, Chuyang Ye. CarveMix: A simple data augmentation method for brain lesion segmentation. NeuroImage. 2023 May 01;271:120041

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    PMID: 36933626

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