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Toward sharing brain images: Differentially private TOF-MRA images with segmentation labels using generative adversarial networks

Tabea Kossen
Manuel Alexander Hirzel
Vince Istvan Madai
Franziska Boenisch
Kristian Hildebrand
Sebastian Pokutta
Kartikey Sharma
Adam Hilbert
Jan Sobesky
Ivana Galinovic
Ahmed Abdelrahim Khalil
Jochen B Fiebach
Dietmar Frey

May 02 , 2022

Sharing labeled data is crucial to acquire large datasets for various Deep Learning applications. In medical imaging, this is often not feasible due to privacy regulations. Whereas anonymization would be a solution, standard techniques have been shown to be partially reversible. Here, synthetic data using a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) with differential privacy guarantees could be a solution to ensure the patient's privacy while maintaining the predictive properties of the data. In this study, we implemented a Wasserstein GAN (WGAN) with and without differential privacy guarantees to generate privacy-preserving labeled Time-of-Flight Magnetic Resonance Angiography (TOF-MRA) image patches for brain vessel segmentation. The synthesized image-label pairs were used to train a U-net which was evaluated in terms of the segmentation performance on real patient images from two different datasets. Additionally, the Fréchet Inception Distance (FID) was calculated between the generated images and the real images to assess their similarity. During the evaluation using the U-Net and the FID, we explored the effect of different levels of privacy which was represented by the parameter ϵ. With stricter privacy guarantees, the segmentation performance and the similarity to the real patient images in terms of FID decreased. Our best segmentation model, trained on synthetic and private data, achieved a Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) of 0.75 for ϵ = 7.4 compared to 0.84 for ϵ = ∞ in a brain vessel segmentation paradigm (DSC of 0.69 and 0.88 on the second test set, respectively). We identified a threshold of ϵ <5 for which the performance (DSC <0.61) became unstable and not usable. Our synthesized labeled TOF-MRA images with strict privacy guarantees retained predictive properties necessary for segmenting the brain vessels. Although further research is warranted regarding generalizability to other imaging modalities and performance improvement, our results mark an encouraging first step for privacy-preserving data sharing in medical imaging.