Multimodal Feature Fusion and Knowledge-Driven Learning via Experts Consult for Thyroid Nodule Classification


Computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) is becoming a prominent approach to assist clinicians spanning across multiple fields. These automated systems take advantage of various computer vision (CV) procedures, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, to formulate a diagnosis of a given image, e.g., computed tomography and ultrasound. Advances in both areas (CV and AI) are enabling ever increasing performances of CAD systems, which can ultimately avoid performing invasive procedures such as fine-needle aspiration. In this study, a novel end-to-end knowledge-driven classification framework is presented. The system focuses on multimodal data generated by thyroid ultrasonography, and acts as a CAD system by providing a thyroid nodule classification into the benign and malignant categories. Specifically, the proposed system leverages cues provided by an ensemble of experts to guide the learning phase of a densely connected convolutional network (DenseNet). The ensemble is composed by various networks pretrained on ImageNet, including AlexNet, ResNet, VGG, and others. The previously computed multimodal feature parameters are used to create ultrasonography domain experts via transfer learning, decreasing, moreover, the number of samples required for training. To validate the proposed method, extensive experiments were performed, providing detailed performances for both the experts ensemble and the knowledge-driven DenseNet. As demonstrated by the results, the proposed system achieves relevant performances in terms of qualitative metrics for the thyroid nodule classification task, thus resulting in a great asset when formulating a diagnosis.

IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology (TCSVT)
Emanuele Rodolà
Emanuele Rodolà
Full Professor