In 100 low-dose non-contrast enhanced non-ECG synchronized screening chest CT scans, a reference standard was defined by manually delineating rectangular bounding boxes around three anatomical ROIs — heart, aortic arch, and descending aorta. Every anatomical ROI was automatically identified using a combination of three CNNs, each analyzing one orthogonal image plane. While single CNNs predicted presence or absence of a specific ROI in the given plane, the combination of their results provided a 3D bounding box around it.
Classification performance of each CNN, expressed in area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, was ≥0.988. Additionally, the performance of ROI localization was evaluated. Median Dice scores for automatically determined bounding boxes around the heart, aortic arch, and descending aorta were 0.89, 0.70, and 0.85 respectively. The results demonstrate that accurate automatic 3D localization of anatomical structures by CNN-based 2D image classification is feasible.