Comparative Analysis of Rhino-Cytological Specimens with Image Analysis and Deep Learning Techniques
Cytological study of the nasal mucosa (also known as rhino-cytology) represents an important diagnostic aid that allows highlighting of the presence of some types of rhinitis through the analysis of cellular features visible under a microscope. Nowadays, the automated detection and classification of cells benefit from the capacity of deep learning techniques in processing digital images of the cytological preparation. Even though the results of such automatic systems need to be validated by a
... ecialized rhino-cytologist, this technology represents a valid support that aims at increasing the accuracy of the analysis while reducing the required time and effort. The quality of the rhino-cytological preparation, which is clearly important for the microscope observation phase, is also fundamental for the automatic classification process. In fact, the slide-preparing technique turns out to be a crucial factor among the multiple ones that may modify the morphological and chromatic characteristics of the cells. This paper aims to investigate the possible differences between direct smear (SM) and cytological centrifugation (CYT) slide-preparation techniques, in order to preserve image quality during the observation and cell classification phases in rhino-cytology. Firstly, a comparative study based on image analysis techniques has been put forward. The extraction of densitometric and morphometric features has made it possible to quantify and describe the spatial distribution of the cells in the field images observed under the microscope. Statistical analysis of the distribution of these features has been used to evaluate the degree of similarity between images acquired from SM and CYT slides. The results prove an important difference in the observation process of the cells prepared with the above-mentioned techniques, with reference to cell density and spatial distribution: the analysis of CYT slides has been more difficult than of the SM ones due to the spatial distribution of the cells, which results in a lower cell density than the SM slides. As a marginal part of this study, a performance assessment of the computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system called Rhino-cyt has also been carried out on both groups of image slide types.