Deep learning with limited data: Organ segmentation performance by U-net

Michelle Bardis, Roozbeh Houshyar, Chanon Chantaduly, Alexander Ushinsky, Justin Glavis-Bloom, Madeleine Shaver, Daniel Chow, Edward Uchio, Peter Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


(1) Background: The effectiveness of deep learning artificial intelligence depends on data availability, often requiring large volumes of data to effectively train an algorithm. However, few studies have explored the minimum number of images needed for optimal algorithmic performance. (2) Methods: This institutional review board (IRB)-approved retrospective review included patients who received prostate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) between September 2014 and August 2018 and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) fusion transrectal biopsy. T2-weighted images were manually segmented by a board-certified abdominal radiologist. Segmented images were trained on a deep learning network with the following case numbers: 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 80, 120, 160, 200, 240, 280, and 320. (3) Results: Our deep learning network’s performance was assessed with a Dice score, which measures overlap between the radiologist’s segmentations and deep learning-generated segmentations and ranges from 0 (no overlap) to 1 (perfect overlap). Our algorithm’s Dice score started at 0.424 with 8 cases and improved to 0.858 with 160 cases. After 160 cases, the Dice increased to 0.867 with 320 cases. (4) Conclusions: Our deep learning network for prostate segmentation produced the highest overall Dice score with 320 training cases. Performance improved notably from training sizes of 8 to 120, then plateaued with minimal improvement at training case size above 160. Other studies utilizing comparable network architectures may have similar plateaus, suggesting suitable results may be obtainable with small datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1199
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Convolutional neural network
  • Deep learning
  • Segmentation
  • Training size
  • U-Net


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