Generative adversarial networks in medical image segmentation: A review

Siyi Xun, Dengwang Li, Hui Zhu, Min Chen, Jianbo Wang, Jie Li, Meirong Chen, Bing Wu, Hua Zhang, Xiangfei Chai, Zekun Jiang, Yan Zhang, Pu Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Since Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) was introduced into the field of deep learning in 2014, it has received extensive attention from academia and industry, and a lot of high-quality papers have been published. GAN effectively improves the accuracy of medical image segmentation because of its good generating ability and capability to capture data distribution. This paper introduces the origin, working principle, and extended variant of GAN, and it reviews the latest development of GAN-based medical image segmentation methods. Method: To find the papers, we searched on Google Scholar and PubMed with the keywords like “segmentation”, “medical image”, and “GAN (or generative adversarial network)”. Also, additional searches were performed on Semantic Scholar, Springer, arXiv, and the top conferences in computer science with the above keywords related to GAN. Results: We reviewed more than 120 GAN-based architectures for medical image segmentation that were published before September 2021. We categorized and summarized these papers according to the segmentation regions, imaging modality, and classification methods. Besides, we discussed the advantages, challenges, and future research directions of GAN in medical image segmentation. Conclusions: We discussed in detail the recent papers on medical image segmentation using GAN. The application of GAN and its extended variants has effectively improved the accuracy of medical image segmentation. Obtaining the recognition of clinicians and patients and overcoming the instability, low repeatability, and uninterpretability of GAN will be an important research direction in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105063
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer vision
  • Deep learning
  • Generative adversarial networks
  • Medical image
  • Segmentation


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