Machine Learning Algorithms for Classification of First-Trimester Fetal Brain Ultrasound Images

Stav Gofer, Oren Haik, Ron Bardin, Yinon Gilboa, Sharon Perlman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of machine learning (ML) tools for segmenting and classifying first-trimester fetal brain ultrasound images. Methods: Two image segmentation methods processed high-resolution fetal brain images obtained during the nuchal translucency scan: “Statistical Region Merging” (SRM) and “Trainable Weka Segmentation” (TWS), with training and testing sets in the latter. Measurement of the fetal cerebral cortex in original and processed images served to evaluate the performance of the algorithms. Mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) was used as an accuracy index of the segmentation processing. Results: The SRM plugin revealed a total MAPE of 1.71% ± 1.62 SD (standard deviation) and a MAPE of 1.4% ± 1.32 SD and 2.72% ± 2.21 SD for the normal and increased NT groups, respectively. The TWS plugin displayed a MAPE of 1.71% ± 0.59 SD (testing set). There were no significant differences between the training and testing sets after 5-fold cross-validation. The images obtained from normal NT fetuses and increased NT fetuses revealed a MAPE of 1.52% ± 1.02 SD and 2.63% ± 1.98 SD. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates the feasibility of using ML algorithms to classify first-trimester fetal brain ultrasound images and lay the foundation for earlier diagnosis of fetal brain abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1773-1779
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • fetal cortex
  • first trimester
  • image processing
  • machine learning
  • nuchal translucency
  • ultrasound


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