Deep learning-based bone suppression in chest radiographs using CT-derived features: A feasibility study

Ge Ren, Haonan Xiao, Sai Kit Lam, Dongrong Yang, Tian Li, Xinzhi Teng, Jing Qin, Jing Cai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: Bone suppression of chest X-ray holds the potential to improve the accuracy of target localization in image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). However, the training dataset for bone suppression is limited because of the scarcity of bone-free radiographs. This study aims to develop a deep learning-based bone suppression method using CT-derived features to reduce the reliance on the bone-free dataset. Methods: In this study, 59 high-resolution lung CT scans were processed to generate the lung digital radiographs (DRs), bone DRs, and bone-free DRs, for the training and internal validation of the proposed cascade convolutional neural network (CCNN). A three-stage image processing framework (CT segmentation, DR simulation, and feature expansion) was developed to expand simulated lung DRs with different weightings of bone intensity. The CCNN consists of a bone detection network and a bone suppression network. In external validation, the trained CCNN was evaluated using 30 chest radiographs. The synthesized bone-suppressed radiographs were compared with the bone-suppressed reference in terms of peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR), mean absolute error (MAE), structural similarity index measure (SSIM), and Spearman's correlation coefficient. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the proposed feature expansion method and CCNN model were assessed via the ablation experiment and replacement experiment, respectively. Results: Evaluation on real chest radiographs showed that the bone-suppressed chest radiographs closely matched with the bone-suppressed reference, achieving an accuracy of MAE =0.0087±0.0030, SSIM =0.8458±0.0317, correlation of 0.9554±0.0170, and PNSR of 20.86±1.60. After removing the feature expansion from the CCNN model, the performance decreased in terms of MAE (0.0294±0.0093, -237.9%), SSIM (0.7747±0.0.0416, -8.4%), correlation (0.8772±0.0271, -8.2%), and PSNR (15.53±1.42, -25.5%) metrics. Conclusions: We successfully demonstrated a novel deep learning-based bone suppression method using CT-derived features to reduce the reliance on the bone-free dataset. Implementation of the feature expansion procedures resulted in a remarkable reinforcement of the model performance. For the application of target localization in IGRT, the clinical testing of the proposed method in the context of radiation therapy is a necessary procedure to move from theory into practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4807-4819
Number of pages13
JournalQuantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Bone suppression
  • Cascade neural network
  • Chest radiograph
  • Chest x-ray
  • Deep learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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