Information fusion for diabetic retinopathy CAD in digital color fundus photographs

M. Niemeijer, M. Abràmoff and B. van Ginneken

IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging 2009;28(5):775-785.

DOI PMID Cited by ~138

The purpose of computer-aided detection or diagnosis (CAD) technology has so far been to serve as a second reader. If, however, all relevant lesions in an image can be detected by CAD algorithms, use of CAD for automatic reading or prescreening may become feasible. This work addresses the question how to fuse information from multiple CAD algorithms, operating on multiple images that comprise an exam, to determine a likelihood that the exam is normal and would not require further inspection by human operators. We focus on retinal image screening for diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes. Current CAD systems are not designed to automatically evaluate complete exams consisting of multiple images for which several detection algorithm output sets are available. Information fusion will potentially play a crucial role in enabling the application of CAD technology to the automatic screening problem. Several different fusion methods are proposed and their effect on the performance of a complete comprehensive automatic diabetic retinopathy screening system is evaluated. Experiments show that the choice of fusion method can have a large impact on system performance. The complete system was evaluated on a set of 15,000 exams (60,000 images). The best performing fusion method obtained an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.881. This indicates that automated prescreening could be applied in diabetic retinopathy screening programs.