Abstract

Automated detection of retinal structures, such as retinal vessels (RV), the foveal avascular zone (FAZ), and retinal vascular junctions (RVJ), are of great importance for understanding diseases of the eye and clinical decision-making. In this paper, we propose a novel Voting based Adaptive Feature Fusion multi-task network (VAFFNet) for joint segmentation, detection, and classification of RV, FAZ, and RVJ in optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA). A task-specific voting gate module is proposed to adaptively extract and fuse different features for specific tasks at two levels: features at different spatial positions from a single encoder, and features from multiple encoders. In particular, since the complexity of the microvasculature in OCTA images makes simultaneous precise localization and classification of retinal vascular junctions into bifurcation/crossing a challenging task, we specifically design a task head by combining the heatmap regression and grid classification. We take advantage of three different en face angiograms from various retinal layers, rather than following existing methods that use only a single en face. To validate the superiority of our VAFFNet, we carry out extensive experiments on three OCTA datasets acquired using different imaging devices, and the results demonstrate that the proposed method performs on the whole better than either the state-of-the-art singlepurpose methods or existing multi-task learning solutions. We also demonstrate that our multi-task learning method generalizes across other imaging modalities, such as color fundus photography, and may potentially be used as a general multi-task learning tool. For the first time in the field of retinal OCTA image analysis, we construct three datasets for multiple structure detection. To facilitate further research, part of these datasets with the source code and evaluation benchmark have been released for public access.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3969-3980
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Volume41
Issue number12
Early online date31 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • OCTA
  • multi-task learning
  • retinal structures
  • detection
  • segmentation
  • classification

Research Centres

  • Centre for Intelligent Visual Computing Research
  • Data and Complex Systems Research Centre

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