STRAINet: Spatially Varying sTochastic Residual AdversarIal Networks for MRI Pelvic Organ Segmentation

Dong Nie, Li Wang, Yaozong Gao, Jun Lian, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate segmentation of pelvic organs is important for prostate radiation therapy. Modern radiation therapy starts to use a magnetic resonance image (MRI) as an alternative to computed tomography image because of its superior soft tissue contrast and also free of risk from radiation exposure. However, segmentation of pelvic organs from MRI is a challenging problem due to inconsistent organ appearance across patients and also large intrapatient anatomical variations across treatment days. To address such challenges, we propose a novel deep network architecture, called 'Spatially varying sTochastic Residual AdversarIal Network' (STRAINet), to delineate pelvic organs from MRI in an end-to-end fashion. Compared to the traditional fully convolutional networks (FCN), the proposed architecture has two main contributions: 1) inspired by the recent success of residual learning, we propose an evolutionary version of the residual unit, i.e., stochastic residual unit, and use it to the plain convolutional layers in the FCN. We further propose long-range stochastic residual connections to pass features from shallow layers to deep layers; and 2) we propose to integrate three previously proposed network strategies to form a new network for better medical image segmentation: a) we apply dilated convolution in the smallest resolution feature maps, so that we can gain a larger receptive field without overly losing spatial information; b) we propose a spatially varying convolutional layer that adapts convolutional filters to different regions of interest; and c) an adversarial network is proposed to further correct the segmented organ structures. Finally, STRAINet is used to iteratively refine the segmentation probability maps in an autocontext manner. Experimental results show that our STRAINet achieved the state-of-the-art segmentation accuracy. Further analysis also indicates that our proposed network components contribute most to the performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number08486982
Pages (from-to)1552-1564
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May


  • Adversarial learning
  • dilation
  • pelvic organ segmentation
  • stochastic residual learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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