Purpose: To clarify whether and to what extent three-dimensional (3D) convolutional neural network (CNN) is superior to 2D CNN when applied to reduce false-positive nodule detections in the scenario of low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening.
Approach: We established a dataset consisting of 1600 chest CT examinations acquired on different subjects from various sources. There were in total 18,280 candidate nodules in these CT examinations, among which 9185 were nodules and 9095 were not nodules. For each candidate nodule, we extracted a number of cubic subvolumes with a dimension of 72 × 72 × 72 mm3 by rotating the CT examinations randomly for 25 times prior to the extraction of the axis-aligned subvolumes. These subvolumes were split into three groups in a ratio of 8 ∶ 1 ∶ 1 for training, validation, and independent testing purposes. We developed a multiscale CNN architecture and implemented its 2D and 3D versions to classify pulmonary nodules into two categories, namely true positive and false positive. The performance of the 2D/3D-CNN classification schemes was evaluated using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUC). The p-values and the 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated.
Results: The AUC for the optimal 2D-CNN model is 0.9307 (95% CI: 0.9285 to 0.9330) with a sensitivity of 92.70% and a specificity of 76.21%. The 3D-CNN model with the best performance had an AUC of 0.9541 (95% CI: 0.9495 to 0.9583) with a sensitivity of 89.98% and a specificity of 87.30%. The developed multiscale CNN architecture had a better performance than the vanilla architecture did.
Conclusions: The 3D-CNN model has a better performance in false-positive reduction compared with its 2D counterpart; however, the improvement is relatively limited and demands more computational resources for training purposes.