An Encoder-decoder Deep Learning Model Combining Mixed Attention Mechanism and Asymmetric Convolution for Automation of Retinal Vessels Segmentation
preprintposted on 01.09.2021, 04:02 by Jiajia Cao, Qin Zhou, Yi ChenYi Chen, Lin Yin, Fei Zhang
The segmentation of the retinal vascular tree is the fundamental step for diagnosing ophthalmological diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Most existing vessel segmentation methods based on deep learning give the learned features equal importance. Ignored the highly imbalanced ratio between background and vessels (the majority of vessel pixels belong to the background), the learned features would be dominantly guided by background, and relatively little influence comes from vessels, often leading to low model sensitivity and prediction accuracy. The reduction of model size is also a challenge. We propose a mixed attention mechanism and asymmetric convolution encoder-decoder structure(MAAC) for segmentation in Retinal Vessels to solve these problems. In MAAC, the mixed attention is designed to emphasize the valid features and suppress the invalid features. It not only identifies information that helps retinal vessels recognition but also locates the position of the vessel. All square convolutions are replaced by asymmetric convolutions because it is more robust to rotational distortions and small convolutions are more suitable for extracting vessel features (based on the thin characteristics of vessels). The employment of asymmetric convolution reduces model parameters and improve the recognition of thin vessel. The experiments on public datasets DRIVE, STARE, and CHASE\_DB1 demonstrated that the proposed MAAC could more accurately segment vessels with a global AUC of 98.17$\%$, 98.67$\%$, and 98.53$\%$, respectively. The mixed attention proposed in this study can be applied to other deep learning models for performance improvement without changing the network architectures.