Deep convolutional neural networks for multiplanar lung nodule detection: Improvement in small nodule identification

Sunyi Zheng*, Ludo J. Cornelissen, Xiaonan Cui, Xueping Jing, Raymond N.J. Veldhuis, Matthijs Oudkerk, Peter M.A. van Ooijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Early detection of lung cancer is of importance since it can increase patients’ chances of survival. To detect nodules accurately during screening, radiologists would commonly take the axial, coronal, and sagittal planes into account, rather than solely the axial plane in clinical evaluation. Inspired by clinical work, the paper aims to develop an accurate deep learning framework for nodule detection by a combination of multiple planes. Methods: The nodule detection system is designed in two stages, multiplanar nodule candidate detection, multiscale false positive (FP) reduction. At the first stage, a deeply supervised encoder–decoder network is trained by axial, coronal, and sagittal slices for the candidate detection task. All possible nodule candidates from the three different planes are merged. To further refine results, a three-dimensional multiscale dense convolutional neural network that extracts multiscale contextual information is applied to remove non-nodules. In the public LIDC-IDRI dataset, 888 computed tomography scans with 1186 nodules accepted by at least three of four radiologists are selected to train and evaluate our proposed system via a tenfold cross-validation scheme. The free-response receiver operating characteristic curve is used for performance assessment. Results: The proposed system achieves a sensitivity of 94.2% with 1.0 FP/scan and a sensitivity of 96.0% with 2.0 FPs/scan. Although it is difficult to detect small nodules (i.e., <6 mm), our designed CAD system reaches a sensitivity of 93.4% (95.0%) of these small nodules at an overall FP rate of 1.0 (2.0) FPs/scan. At the nodule candidate detection stage, results show that the system with a multiplanar method is capable to detect more nodules compared to using a single plane. Conclusion: Our approach achieves good performance not only for small nodules but also for large lesions on this dataset. This demonstrates the effectiveness of our developed CAD system for lung nodule detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-744
Number of pages12
JournalMedical physics
Issue number2
Early online date10 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • computed tomography
  • computer-aided detection
  • convolutional neural network
  • deep learning
  • pulmonary nodule detection


Dive into the research topics of 'Deep convolutional neural networks for multiplanar lung nodule detection: Improvement in small nodule identification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this