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Directional bilateral filters for smoothing fluorescence microscopy images
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Images obtained through fluorescence microscopy at low numerical aperture (NA) are noisy and have poor resolution. Images of specimens such as F-actin filaments obtained using confocal or widefield fluorescence
microscopes contain directional information and it is important that an image smoothing or filtering technique preserve the directionality. F-actin filaments are widely studied in pathology because the abnormalities in actin dynamics play a key role in diagnosis of cancer, cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, myofibrillar myopathies, neurological disorders, etc. We develop the directional bilateral filter as a means of filtering out the noise in the image without significantly altering the directionality of the F-actin filaments. The bilateral filter is anisotropic to start with, but we add an additional degree of anisotropy by employing an oriented domain kernel for smoothing. The orientation is locally adapted using a structure tensor and the parameters of the bilateral filter are optimized for within the framework of statistical risk minimization. We show that the directional bilateral filter has better denoising performance than the traditional Gaussian bilateral filter and other denoising techniques such as SURE-LET, non-local means, and guided image filtering at various noise levels in terms of peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR). We also show quantitative improvements in low NA
images of F-actin filaments.
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