A novel computer-aided lung nodule detection system for CT images

Maxine Tan, Rudi Deklerck, Bart Jansen, Michel Bister, Jan Cornelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The paper presents a complete computer-aided detection (CAD) system for the detection of lung nodules in computed tomography images. A new mixed feature selection and classification methodology is applied for the first time on a difficult medical image analysis problem. Methods: The CAD system was trained and tested on images from the publicly available Lung Image Database Consortium (LIDC) on the National Cancer Institute website. The detection stage of the system consists of a nodule segmentation method based on nodule and vessel enhancement filters and a computed divergence feature to locate the centers of the nodule clusters. In the subsequent classification stage, invariant features, defined on a gauge coordinates system, are used to differentiate between real nodules and some forms of blood vessels that are easily generating false positive detections. The performance of the novel feature-selective classifier based on genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks (ANNs) is compared with that of two other established classifiers, namely, support vector machines (SVMs) and fixed-topology neural networks. A set of 235 randomly selected cases from the LIDC database was used to train the CAD system. The system has been tested on 125 independent cases from the LIDC database. Results: The overall performance of the fixed-topology ANN classifier slightly exceeds that of the other classifiers, provided the number of internal ANN nodes is chosen well. Making educated guesses about the number of internal ANN nodes is not needed in the new feature-selective classifier, and therefore this classifier remains interesting due to its flexibility and adaptability to the complexity of the classification problem to be solved. Our fixed-topology ANN classifier with 11 hidden nodes reaches a detection sensitivity of 87.5% with an average of four false positives per scan, for nodules with diameter greater than or equal to 3 mm. Analysis of the false positive items reveals that a considerable proportion (18%) of them are smaller nodules, less than 3 mm in diameter. Conclusions: A complete CAD system incorporating novel features is presented, and its performance with three separate classifiers is compared and analyzed. The overall performance of our CAD system equipped with any of the three classifiers is well with respect to other methods described in literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5630-5645
Number of pages16
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • classifiers
  • invariant image features
  • lung nodule detection
  • medical image analysis

Cite this