Weakly Supervised Segmentation Framework with Uncertainty: A Study on Pneumothorax Segmentation in Chest X-ray

  • Xi Ouyang
  • Zhong Xue
  • Yiqiang Zhan
  • Xiang Sean Zhou
  • Qingfeng Wang
  • Ying Zhou
  • Qian Wang
  • Jie-Zhi ChengEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11769)


Pneumothorax is a critical abnormality that shall be treated with higher priority, and hence a computerized triage scheme is needed. A deep-learning-based framework to automatically segment the pneumothorax in chest X-rays is developed to support the realization of a triage system. Since a large number of pixel-level annotations is commonly needed but difficult to obtain for deep learning model, we propose a weakly supervised framework that allows partial training data to be weakly annotated with only image-level labels. We employ the attention masks derived from an image-level classification model as the pixel-level masks for those weakly-annotated data. Because the attention masks are rough and may have errors, we further develop a spatial label smoothing regularization technique to explore the uncertainty for the incorrectness of the attention masks in the training of segmentation model. Experimental results show that the proposed weakly supervised segmentation algorithm relieves the need of well-annotated data and yield satisfactory performance on the pneumothorax segmentation.


Pneumothorax Weakly supervised segmentation Spatial label smoothing regularization 



This work was partially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFC0116400), STCSM grants (19QC1400600, 17411953300), and the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization (2017RGZN01026).

Supplementary material

490281_1_En_68_MOESM_ESM.pdf (538 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 537 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xi Ouyang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhong Xue
    • 1
  • Yiqiang Zhan
    • 1
  • Xiang Sean Zhou
    • 1
  • Qingfeng Wang
    • 3
  • Ying Zhou
    • 4
  • Qian Wang
    • 2
  • Jie-Zhi Cheng
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Shanghai United Imaging Intelligence Co., Ltd.ShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Institute for Medical Imaging Technology, School of Biomedical EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.School of Computer Science and TechnologySouthwest University of Science and TechnologyMianyangChina
  4. 4.Radiology DepartmentMianyang Central HospitalMianyangChina

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