Anatomical attention can help to segment the dilated pancreatic duct in abdominal CT

Chen Shen, Holger R. Roth, Yuichiro Hayashi, Masahiro Oda, Gen Sato, Tadaaki Miyamoto, Daniel Rueckert, Kensaku Mori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Pancreatic duct dilation is associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, the most lethal malignancy with the lowest 5-year relative survival rate. Automatic segmentation of the dilated pancreatic duct from contrast-enhanced CT scans would facilitate early diagnosis. However, pancreatic duct segmentation poses challenges due to its small anatomical structure and poor contrast in abdominal CT. In this work, we investigate an anatomical attention strategy to address this issue. Methods: Our proposed anatomical attention strategy consists of two steps: pancreas localization and pancreatic duct segmentation. The coarse pancreatic mask segmentation is used to guide the fully convolutional networks (FCNs) to concentrate on the pancreas’ anatomy and disregard unnecessary features. We further apply a multi-scale aggregation scheme to leverage the information from different scales. Moreover, we integrate the tubular structure enhancement as an additional input channel of FCN. Results: We performed extensive experiments on 30 cases of contrast-enhanced abdominal CT volumes. To evaluate the pancreatic duct segmentation performance, we employed four measurements, including the Dice similarity coefficient (DSC), sensitivity, normalized surface distance, and 95 percentile Hausdorff distance. The average DSC achieves 55.7%, surpassing other pancreatic duct segmentation methods on single-phase CT scans only. Conclusions: We proposed an anatomical attention-based strategy for the dilated pancreatic duct segmentation. Our proposed strategy significantly outperforms earlier approaches. The attention mechanism helps to focus on the pancreas region, while the enhancement of the tubular structure enables FCNs to capture the vessel-like structure. The proposed technique might be applied to other tube-like structure segmentation tasks within targeted anatomies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-664
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomical attention
  • Dilated pancreatic duct
  • Pancreatic duct segmentation
  • Tubular structure enhancement


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