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Bootstrapping Chest CT Image Understanding by Distilling Knowledge from X-ray Expert Models

Weiwei Cao · Jianpeng Zhang · Yingda Xia · Tony C. W. MOK · Zi Li · Xianghua Ye · Le Lu · Jian Zheng · Yuxing Tang · Ling Zhang

Arch 4A-E Poster #153
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Thu 20 Jun 10:30 a.m. PDT — noon PDT


Radiologists highly desire fully automated versatile AI for medical imaging interpretation. However, the lack of extensively annotated large-scale multi-disease datasets has hindered the achievement of this goal. In this paper, we explore the feasibility of leveraging language as a naturally high-quality supervision for chest CT imaging. In light of the limited availability of image-report pairs, we bootstrap the understanding of 3D chest CT images by distilling chest-related diagnostic knowledge from an extensively pre-trained 2D X-ray expert model. Specifically, we propose a language-guided retrieval method to match each 3D CT image with its semantically closest 2D X-ray image, and perform pair-wise and semantic relation knowledge distillation. Subsequently, we use contrastive learning to align images and reports within the same patient while distinguishing them from the other patients. However, the challenge arises when patients have similar semantic diagnoses, such as healthy patients, potentially confusing if treated as negatives. We introduce a robust contrastive learning that identifies and corrects these false negatives. We train our model with over 12K pairs of chest CT images and radiology reports. Extensive experiments across multiple scenarios, including zero-shot learning, report generation, and fine-tuning processes, demonstrate the model’s feasibility in interpreting chest CT images.

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