Deep learning methods, and in particular convolutional neural networks (CNNs), have led to an enormous breakthrough in a wide range of computer vision tasks, primarily by using large-scale annotated datasets. However, obtaining such datasets in the medical domain remains a challenge. In this paper, we present methods for generating synthetic medical images using recently presented deep learning Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). Furthermore, we show that generated medical images can be used for synthetic data augmentation, and improve the performance of CNN for medical image classification. Our novel method is demonstrated on a limited dataset of computed tomography (CT) images of 182 liver lesions (53 cysts, 64 metastases and 65 hemangiomas). We first exploit GAN architectures for synthesizing high quality liver lesion ROIs. Then we present a novel scheme for liver lesion classification using CNN. Finally, we train the CNN using classic data augmentation and our synthetic data augmentation and compare performance. In addition, we explore the quality of our synthesized examples using visualization and expert assessment. The classification performance using only classic data augmentation yielded 78.6% sensitivity and 88.4% specificity. By adding the synthetic data augmentation the results increased to 85.7% sensitivity and 92.4% specificity. We believe that this approach to synthetic data augmentation can generalize to other medical classification applications and thus support radiologists’ efforts to improve diagnosis.
- Convolutional neural networks
- Data augmentation
- Deep learning
- Generative adversarial network
- Image synthesis
- Lesion classification
- Liver lesions