Histological classification of canine and feline lymphoma using a modular approach based on deep learning and advanced image processing

Andreas Haghofer, Andrea Fuchs-Baumgartinger, Karoline Lipnik, Robert Klopfleisch, Marc Aubreville, Josef Scharinger, Herbert Weissenböck, Stephan M Winkler, Christof A Bertram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Histopathological examination of tissue samples is essential for identifying tumor malignancy and the diagnosis of different types of tumor. In the case of lymphoma classification, nuclear size of the neoplastic lymphocytes is one of the key features to differentiate the different subtypes. Based on the combination of artificial intelligence and advanced image processing, we provide a workflow for the classification of lymphoma with regards to their nuclear size (small, intermediate, and large). As the baseline for our workflow testing, we use a Unet++ model trained on histological images of canine lymphoma with individually labeled nuclei. As an alternative to the Unet++, we also used a publicly available pre-trained and unmodified instance segmentation model called Stardist to demonstrate that our modular classification workflow can be combined with different types of segmentation models if they can provide proper nuclei segmentation. Subsequent to nuclear segmentation, we optimize algorithmic parameters for accurate classification of nuclear size using a newly derived reference size and final image classification based on a pathologists-derived ground truth. Our image classification module achieves a classification accuracy of up to 926.67 to 84 our algorithm provides a higher accuracy level and reproducible results. Our workflow also demonstrates a high transferability to feline lymphoma, as shown by its accuracy of up to 84.21 even though our workflow was not optimized for feline lymphoma images. By determining the nuclear size distribution in tumor areas, our workflow can assist pathologists in subtyping lymphoma based on the nuclei size and potentially improve reproducibility. Our proposed approach is modular and comprehensible, thus allowing adaptation for specific tasks and increasing the users' trust in computer-assisted image classification.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19436
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2023


  • Animals
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cat Diseases/diagnostic imaging
  • Cats
  • Deep Learning
  • Dog Diseases/diagnostic imaging
  • Dogs
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted/methods
  • Lymphoma/diagnostic imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results

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