Automated retinal lesion detection via image saliency analysis

Qifeng Yan, Yitian Zhao, Yalin Zheng, Yonghuai Liu, Kang Zhou, Alejandro Frangi, Jiang Liu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objective: The detection of abnormalities such as lesions or leakage from retinal images is an important health informatics task for automated early diagnosis of diabetic and malarial retinopathy or other eye diseases, in order to prevent blindness and common systematic conditions. In this work, we propose a novel retinal lesion detection method by adapting the concepts of saliency. Methods: Retinal images are first segmented as superpixels, two new saliency feature representations: uniqueness and compactness, are then derived to represent the superpixels. The pixel level saliency is then estimated from these superpixel saliency values via a bilateral filter. These extracted saliency features form a matrix for low-rank analysis to achieve saliency detection. The precise contour of a lesion is finally extracted from the generated saliency map after removing confounding structures such as blood vessels, the optic disk, and the fovea. The main novelty of this method is that it is an effective tool for detecting different abnormalities at the pixel level from different modalities of retinal images, without the need to tune parameters. Results: To evaluate its effectiveness, we have applied our method to seven public datasets of diabetic and malarial retinopathy with four different types of lesions: exudate, hemorrhage, microaneurysms, and leakage. The evaluation was undertaken at the pixel level, lesion level, or image level according to ground truth availability in these datasets. Conclusions: The experimental results show that the proposed method outperforms existing state-of-the-art ones in applicability, effectiveness, and accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4531-4544
Number of pages14
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • feature
  • lesion detection
  • low-rank
  • retinal image
  • saliency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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