Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) is a visceral fat deposit, that’s known for its association with factors, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, age, and hypertension. Segmentation of the EAT in a fast and reproducible way is important for the interpretation of its role as an independent risk marker intricate. However, EAT has a variable distribution, and various diseases may affect the volume of the EAT, which can increase the complexity of the already time-consuming manual segmentation work. We propose a 3D deep attention U-Net method to automatically segment the EAT from coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA). Five-fold cross-validation and hold-out experiments were used to evaluate the proposed method through a retrospective investigation of 200 patients. The automatically segmented EAT volume was compared with physician-approved clinical contours. Quantitative metrics used were the Dice similarity coefficient (DSC), sensitivity, specificity, Jaccard index (JAC), Hausdorff distance (HD), mean surface distance (MSD), residual mean square distance (RMSD), and the center of mass distance (CMD). For cross-validation, the median DSC, sensitivity, and specificity were 92.7%, 91.1%, and 95.1%, respectively, with JAC, HD, CMD, MSD, and RMSD are 82.9% ± 8.8%, 3.77 ± 1.86mm, 1.98 ± 1.50mm, 0.37 ± 0.24mm, and 0.65 ± 0.37mm, respectively. For the hold-out test, the accuracy of the proposed method remained high. We developed a novel deep learning-based approach for the automated segmentation of the EAT on CCTA images. We demonstrated the high accuracy of the proposed learning-based segmentation method through comparison with ground truth contour of 200 clinical patient cases using 8 quantitative metrics, Pearson correlation, and Bland-Altman analysis. Our automatic EAT segmentation results show the potential of the proposed method to be used in computer-aided diagnosis of coronary artery diseases (CADs) in clinical settings.
© 2020 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.