Generalizability of Deep Adult Lung Segmentation Models to the Pediatric Population: A Retrospective Study

Lung segmentation in chest X-rays (CXRs) is an important prerequisite for improving the specificity of diagnoses of cardiopulmonary diseases in a clinical decision support system. Current deep learning (DL) models for lung segmentation are trained and evaluated on CXR datasets in which the radiographic projections are captured predominantly from the adult population. However, the shape of the lungs is reported to be significantly different for pediatrics across the developmental stages from infancy to adulthood. This might result in age-related data domain shifts that would adversely impact lung segmentation performance when the models trained on the adult population are deployed for pediatric lung segmentation. In this work, our goal is to analyze the generalizability of deep adult lung segmentation models to the pediatric population and improve performance through a systematic combinatorial approach consisting of CXR modality-specific weight initializations, stacked generalization, and an ensemble of the stacked generalization models. Novel evaluation metrics consisting of Mean Lung Contour Distance and Average Hash Score are proposed in addition to the Multi-scale Structural Similarity Index Measure, Intersection of Union, and Dice metrics to evaluate segmentation performance. We observed a significant improvement (p < 0.05) in cross-domain generalization through our combinatorial approach. This study could serve as a paradigm to analyze the cross-domain generalizability of deep segmentation models for other medical imaging modalities and applications.


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