CovSegNet: A Multi Encoder-Decoder Architecture for Improved Lesion Segmentation of COVID-19 Chest CT Scans

Tanvir Mahmud, Md Awsafur Rahman, Shaikh Anowarul Fattah, Sun Yuan Kung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Automatic lung lesion segmentation of chest computer tomography (CT) scans is considered a pivotal stage toward accurate diagnosis and severity measurement of COVID-19. Traditional U-shaped encoder-decoder architecture and its variants suffer from diminutions of contextual information in pooling/upsampling operations with increased semantic gaps among encoded and decoded feature maps as well as instigate vanishing gradient problems for its sequential gradient propagation that result in suboptimal performance. Moreover, operating with 3-D CT volume poses further limitations due to the exponential increase of computational complexity making the optimization difficult. In this article, an automated COVID-19 lesion segmentation scheme is proposed utilizing a highly efficient neural network architecture, namely CovSegNet, to overcome these limitations. Additionally, a two-phase training scheme is introduced where a deeper 2-D network is employed for generating region-of-interest (ROI)-enhanced CT volume followed by a shallower 3-D network for further enhancement with more contextual information without increasing computational burden. Along with the traditional vertical expansion of Unet, we have introduced horizontal expansion with multistage encoder-decoder modules for achieving optimum performance. Additionally, multiscale feature maps are integrated into the scale transition process to overcome the loss of contextual information. Moreover, a multiscale fusion module is introduced with a pyramid fusion scheme to reduce the semantic gaps between subsequent encoder/decoder modules while facilitating the parallel optimization for efficient gradient propagation. Outstanding performances have been achieved in three publicly available datasets that largely outperform other state-of-the-art approaches. The proposed scheme can be easily extended for achieving optimum segmentation performances in a wide variety of applications. Impact Statement-With lower sensitivity (60-70%), elongated testing time, and a dire shortage of testing kits, traditional RTPCR based COVID-19 diagnostic scheme heavily relies on postCT based manual inspection for further investigation. Hence, automating the process of infected lesions extraction from chestCT volumes will be major progress for faster accurate diagnosis of COVID-19. However, in challenging conditions with diffused, blurred, and varying shaped edges of COVID-19 lesions, conventional approaches fail to provide precise segmentation of lesions that can be deleterious for false estimation and loss of information. The proposed scheme incorporating an efficient neural network architecture (CovSegNet) overcomes the limitations of traditional approaches that provide significant improvement of performance (8.4% in averaged dice measurement scale) over two datasets. Therefore, this scheme can be an effective, economical tool for the physicians for faster infection analysis to greatly reduce the spread and massive death toll of this deadly virus through mass-screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Artificial Intelligence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications


  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • biomedical imaging
  • computer aided analysis
  • image segmentation
  • neural networks


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