Imaging biomarkers are being rapidly developed for early diagnosis and staging of disease. The development of these biomarkers requires advances in both image acquisition and analysis. Detecting and segmenting objects from images are often the first steps in quantitative measurement of these biomarkers. The challenges of detecting objects in images, particularly small objects known as blobs, include low image resolution, image noise and overlap between the blobs. The Difference of Gaussian (DoG) detector has been used to overcome these challenges in blob detection. However, the DoG detector is susceptible to over-detection and must be refined for robust, reproducible detection in a wide range of medical images. In this research, we propose a joint constraint blob detector from U-Net, a deep learning model, and Hessian analysis, to overcome these problems and identify true blobs from noisy medical images. We evaluate this approach, UH-DoG, using a public 2D fluorescent dataset for cell nucleus detection and a 3D kidney magnetic resonance imaging dataset for glomerulus detection. We then compare this approach to methods in the literature. While comparable to the other four comparing methods on recall, the UH-DoG outperforms them on both precision and F-score.
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