Retinal blood vessel extraction employing effective image features and combination of supervised and unsupervised machine learning methods

Mahdi Hashemzadeh, Baharak Adlpour Azar
Artificial Intelligence in Medicine 2019, 95: 1-15
In medicine, retinal vessel analysis of fundus images is a prominent task for the screening and diagnosis of various ophthalmological and cardiovascular diseases. In this research, a method is proposed for extracting the retinal blood vessels employing a set of effective image features and combination of supervised and unsupervised machine learning techniques. Further to the common features used in extracting blood vessels, three strong features having a significant influence on the accuracy of the vessel extraction are utilized. The selected combination of the different types of individually efficient features results in a rich local information with better discrimination for vessel and non-vessel pixels. The proposed method first extracts the thick and clear vessels in an unsupervised manner, and then, it extracts the thin vessels in a supervised way. The goal of the combination of the supervised and unsupervised methods is to deal with the problem of intra-class high variance of image features calculated from various vessel pixels. The proposed method is evaluated on three publicly available databases DRIVE, STARE and CHASE_DB1. The obtained results (DRIVE: Acc = 0.9531, AUC = 0.9752; STARE: Acc = 0.9691, AUC = 0.9853; CHASE_DB1: Acc = 0.9623, AUC = 0.9789) demonstrate the better performance of the proposed method compared to the state-of-the-art methods.

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