Context Matters: Graph-based Self-supervised Representation Learning for Medical Images


  • Li Sun University of Pittsburgh
  • Ke Yu University of Pittsburgh
  • Kayhan Batmanghelich University of Pittsburgh



AI Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Covid19), Unsupervised & Self-Supervised Learning, 3D Computer Vision, Graph-based Machine Learning


Supervised learning method requires a large volume of annotated datasets. Collecting such datasets is time-consuming and expensive. Until now, very few annotated COVID-19 imaging datasets are available. Although self-supervised learning enables us to bootstrap the training by exploiting unlabeled data, the generic self-supervised methods for natural images do not sufficiently incorporate the context. For medical images, a desirable method should be sensitive enough to detect deviation from normal-appearing tissue of each anatomical region; here, anatomy is the context. We introduce a novel approach with two levels of self-supervised representation learning objectives: one on the regional anatomical level and another on the patient-level. We use graph neural networks to incorporate the relationship between different anatomical regions. The structure of the graph is informed by anatomical correspondences between each patient and an anatomical atlas. In addition, the graph representation has the advantage of handling any arbitrarily sized image in full resolution. Experiments on large-scale Computer Tomography (CT) datasets of lung images show that our approach compares favorably to baseline methods that do not account for the context. We use the learnt embedding to quantify the clinical progression of COVID-19 and show that our method generalizes well to COVID-19 patients from different hospitals. Qualitative results suggest that our model can identify clinically relevant regions in the images.




How to Cite

Sun, L., Yu, K., & Batmanghelich, K. (2021). Context Matters: Graph-based Self-supervised Representation Learning for Medical Images. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 35(6), 4874-4882.



AAAI Technical Track Focus Area on AI Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic