White blood cell differential count of maturation stages in bone marrow smear using dual-stage convolutional neural networks

Jin Woo Choi, Yunseo Ku, Byeong Wook Yoo, Jung Ah Kim, Dong Soon Lee, Young Jun Chai, Hyoun Joong Kong, Hee Chan Kim

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The white blood cell differential count of the bone marrow provides information concerning the distribution of immature and mature cells within maturation stages. The results of such examinations are important for the diagnosis of various diseases and for follow-up care after chemotherapy. However, manual, labor-intensive methods to determine the differential count lead to inter- and intra-variations among the results obtained by hematologists. Therefore, an automated system to conduct the white blood cell differential count is highly desirable, but several difficulties hinder progress. There are variations in the white blood cells of each maturation stage, small inter-class differences within each stage, and variations in images because of the different acquisition and staining processes. Moreover, a large number of classes need to be classified for bone marrow smear analysis, and the high density of touching cells in bone marrow smears renders difficult the segmentation of single cells, which is crucial to traditional image processing and machine learning. Few studies have attempted to discriminate bone marrow cells, and even these have either discriminated only a few classes or yielded insufficient performance. In this study, we propose an automated white blood cell differential counting system from bone marrow smear images using a dual-stage convolutional neural network (CNN). A total of 2,174 patch images were collected for training and testing. The dual-stage CNN classified images into 10 classes of the myeloid and erythroid maturation series, and achieved an accuracy of 97.06%, a precision of 97.13%, a recall of 97.06%, and an F-1 score of 97.1%. The proposed method not only showed high classification performance, but also successfully classified raw images without single cell segmentation and manual feature extraction by implementing CNN. Moreover, it demonstrated rotation and location invariance. These results highlight the promise of the proposed method as an automated white blood cell differential count system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0189259
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2019

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