Good results on image classification and retrieval using support vector machines (SVM) with local binary patterns (LBPs) as features have been extensively reported in the literature where an entire image is retrieved or classified. In contrast, in medical imaging, not all parts of the image may be equally significant or relevant to the image retrieval application at hand. For instance, in lung x-ray image, the lung region may contain a tumour, hence being highly significant whereas the surrounding area does not contain significant information from medical diagnosis perspective. In this paper, we propose to detect salient regions of images during training and fold the data to reduce the effect of irrelevant regions. As a result, smaller image areas will be used for LBP features calculation and consequently classification by SVM. We use IRMA 2009 dataset with 14,410 xray images to verify the performance of the proposed approach. The results demonstrate the benefits of saliency-based folding approach that delivers comparable classification accuracies with state-of-the-art but exhibits lower computational cost and storage requirements, factors highly important for big data analytics.