Blood vessel (BV) information can be used to guide body organ segmentation on computed tomography (CT) imaging. The proposed method uses abdominal BVs (ABVs) to segment the liver through the portal phase of an abdominal CT dataset. This method aims to address the wide variability in liver shape and size, separate liver from other organs of similar intensity, and segment hepatic low-intensity tumors (LITs).
Thin ABVs are enhanced using three-dimensional (3D) opening. ABVs are extracted and classified into hepatic BVs (HBVs) and nonhepatic BVs (non-HBVs) with a small number of interactions, and HBVs and non-HBVs are used for constraining automatic liver segmentation. HBVs are used to individually segment the core region of the liver. To separate the liver from other organs, this core region and non-HBVs are used to construct an initial 3D boundary surface. To segment LITs, the core region is classified into non-LIT- and LIT-parts by fitting the histogram of the core region using a variational Bayesian Gaussian mixture model. Each part of the core region is extended based on its corresponding component of the mixture, and extension is completed when it reaches a variation in intensity or the constructed boundary surface, which is reconfirmed to fit robustly between the liver and neighboring organs of similar intensity. A solid-angle technique is used to refine main BVs at the entrances to the inferior vena cava and the portal vein.
The proposed method was applied to 80 datasets: 30 Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI) and 50 non-MICCAI; 30 datasets of non-MICCAI data include tumors. Our results for MICCAI-test data were evaluated by sliver07 (http://www.sliver07.org/) organizers with an overall score of 85.7, which ranks best on the site as of July 2013. These results (average ± standard deviation) include the five error measures of the 2007 MICCAI workshop for liver segmentation as follows. Results for volume overlap error, relative volume difference, average symmetric surface distance, root mean square symmetric surface distance, and maximum symmetric surface distance were 4.33 ± 0.73, 0.28 ± 0.87, 0.63 ± 0.16, 1.19 ± 0.28, and 14.01 ± 2.88, respectively; and when applying our method to non-MICCAI data, results were 3.21 ± 0.75, 0.06 ± 1.29, 0.45 ± 0.17, 0.98 ± 0.26, and 12.69 ± 3.89, respectively. These results demonstrate high performance of the method when applied to different CT datasets.
BVs can be used to address the wide variability in liver shape and size, as BVs provide unique details for the structure of each studied liver. Constructing a boundary surface using HBVs and non-HBVs can separate liver from its neighboring organs of similar intensity. By fitting the histogram of the core region using a variational Bayesian Gaussian mixture model, LITs are segmented and measuring the volumetry of non-LIT- and LIT-parts becomes possible. Further examination of the proposed method on a large number of datasets is required for clinical applications, and development of the method for full automation may be possible and useful in the clinic.
This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (21103005).
II. MATERIALS AND METHODS
II.B. Extraction of ABVs and subsequent classification into HBVs and non-HBVs
II.B.1. Extraction of ABVs
II.B.2. Classifying ABVs into HBVs and non-HBVs
II.C. Automatic segmentation of the liver under HBVs and non-HBVs constraint
II.C.1. Step 1: Segmenting the core region of the liver
II.C.2. Step 2: Constructing an initial boundary surface between the liver and other organs
II.C.3. Step 3: Segmenting LITs
II.C.4. Step 4: Refining the segmented liver
IV.A. Addressing the wide variability in liver shapes and sizes
IV.B. Separating the liver from other organs
IV.C. Segmenting LIT
IV.D. Inter user variability
V. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK
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