J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2022 Nov 7;24(1):57. doi: 10.1186/s12968-022-00891-z.
BACKGROUND: Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is increasingly used for the assessment of blood flow conditions in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). This requires patient-specific anatomy, typically obtained from segmented 3D cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) images. However, segmentation is time-consuming and requires expert input. This study aims to develop and validate a machine learning (ML) method for segmentation of the aorta and pulmonary arteries for CFD studies.
METHODS: 90 CHD patients were retrospectively selected for this study. 3D CMR images were manually segmented to obtain ground-truth (GT) background, aorta and pulmonary artery labels. These were used to train and optimize a U-Net model, using a 70-10-10 train-validation-test split. Segmentation performance was primarily evaluated using Dice score. CFD simulations were set up from GT and ML segmentations using a semi-automatic meshing and simulation pipeline. Mean pressure and velocity fields across 99 planes along the vessel centrelines were extracted, and a mean average percentage error (MAPE) was calculated for each vessel pair (ML vs GT). A second observer (SO) segmented the test dataset for assessment of inter-observer variability. Friedman tests were used to compare ML vs GT, SO vs GT and ML vs SO metrics, and pressure/velocity field errors.
RESULTS: The network’s Dice score (ML vs GT) was 0.945 (interquartile range: 0.929-0.955) for the aorta and 0.885 (0.851-0.899) for the pulmonary arteries. Differences with the inter-observer Dice score (SO vs GT) and ML vs SO Dice scores were not statistically significant for either aorta or pulmonary arteries (p = 0.741, p = 0.061). The ML vs GT MAPEs for pressure and velocity in the aorta were 10.1% (8.5-15.7%) and 4.1% (3.1-6.9%), respectively, and for the pulmonary arteries 14.6% (11.5-23.2%) and 6.3% (4.3-7.9%), respectively. Inter-observer (SO vs GT) and ML vs SO pressure and velocity MAPEs were of a similar magnitude to ML vs GT (p > 0.2).
CONCLUSIONS: ML can successfully segment the great vessels for CFD, with errors similar to inter-observer variability. This fast, automatic method reduces the time and effort needed for CFD analysis, making it more attractive for routine clinical use.