Interactive vs. automatic ultrasound image segmentation methods for staging hepatic lipidosis.
SourceUltrasonic Imaging, 32, 3, (2010), pp. 143-153
1 juli 2010
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectIGMD 1: Functional imaging
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that automatic segmentation of vessels in ultrasound (US) images can produce similar or better results in grading fatty livers than interactive segmentation. A study was performed in postpartum dairy cows (N=151), as an animal model of human fatty liver disease, to test this hypothesis. Five transcutaneous and five intraoperative US liver images were acquired in each animal and a liverbiopsy was taken. In liver tissue samples, triacylglycerol (TAG) was measured by biochemical analysis and hepatic diseases other than hepatic lipidosis were excluded by histopathologic examination. Ultrasonic tissue characterization (UTC) parameters--Mean echo level, standard deviation (SD) of echo level, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), residual attenuation coefficient (ResAtt) and axial and lateral speckle size--were derived using a computer-aided US (CAUS) protocol and software package. First, the liver tissue was interactively segmented by two observers. With increasing fat content, fewer hepatic vessels were visible in the ultrasound images and, therefore, a smaller proportion of the liver needed to be excluded from these images. Automatic-segmentation algorithms were implemented and it was investigated whether better results could be achieved than with the subjective and time-consuming interactive-segmentation procedure. The automatic-segmentation algorithms were based on both fixed and adaptive thresholding techniques in combination with a 'speckle'-shaped moving-window exclusion technique. All data were analyzed with and without postprocessing as contained in CAUS and with different automated-segmentation techniques. This enabled us to study the effect of the applied postprocessing steps on single and multiple linear regressions ofthe various UTC parameters with TAG. Improved correlations for all US parameters were found by using automatic-segmentation techniques. Stepwise multiple linear-regression formulas where derived and used to predict TAG level in the liver. Receiver-operating-characteristics (ROC) analysis was applied to assess the performance and area under the curve (AUC) of predicting TAG and to compare the sensitivity and specificity of the methods. Best speckle-size estimates and overall performance (R2 = 0.71, AUC = 0.94) were achieved by using an SNR-based adaptive automatic-segmentation method (used TAG threshold: 50 mg/g liver wet weight). Automatic segmentation is thus feasible and profitable.
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