Google Research

Detecting Deficient Coverage in Colonoscopies

IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging (2020) (to appear)

Abstract

Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is a global health problem, resulting in 900K deaths per year. Colonoscopy is the tool of choice for preventing CRC, by detecting polyps before they become cancerous, and removing them. However, colonoscopy is hampered by the fact that endoscopists routinely miss an average of 22-28% of polyps. While some of these missed polyps appear in the endoscopist's field of view, others are missed simply because of substandard coverage of the procedure, i.e. not all of the colon is seen. This paper attempts to rectify the problem of substandard coverage in colonoscopy through the introduction of the C2D2 (Colonoscopy Coverage Deficiency via Depth) algorithm which detects deficient coverage, and can thereby alert the endoscopist to revisit a given area. More specifically, C2D2 consists of two separate algorithms: the first performs depth estimation of the colon given an ordinary RGB video stream; while the second computes coverage given these depth estimates. Rather than compute coverage for the entire colon, our algorithm computes coverage locally, on a segment-by-segment basis; C2D2 can then indicate in real-time whether a particular area of the colon has suffered from deficient coverage, and if so the endoscopist can return to that area. Our coverage algorithm is the first such algorithm to be evaluated in a large-scale way; while our depth estimation technique is the first calibration-free unsupervised method applied to colonoscopies. The C2D2 algorithm achieves state of the art results in the detection of deficient coverage: it is 2.4 times more accurate than human experts.

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