4D arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance angiography (4D ASL MRA) is a non-invasive and safe modality for cerebrovascular imaging procedures. It uses the patient’s magnetically labeled blood as intrinsic contrast agent, so that no external contrast media is required. It provides important 3D structure and blood flow information but a sufficient cerebrovascular segmentation is important since it can help clinicians to analyze and diagnose vascular diseases faster, and with higher confidence as compared to simple visual rating of raw ASL MRA images. This work presents a new method for automatic cerebrovascular segmentation in 4D ASL MRA images of the brain. In this process images are denoised, corresponding image label/control image pairs of the 4D ASL MRA sequences are subtracted, and temporal intensity averaging is used to generate a static representation of the vascular system. After that, sets of vessel and background seeds are extracted and provided as input for the image foresting transform algorithm to segment the vascular system. Four 4D ASL MRA datasets of the brain arteries of healthy subjects and corresponding time-of-flight (TOF) MRA images were available for this preliminary study. For evaluation of the segmentation results of the proposed method, the cerebrovascular system was automatically segmented in the high-resolution TOF MRA images using a validated algorithm and the segmentation results were registered to the 4D ASL datasets. Corresponding segmentation pairs were compared using the Dice similarity coefficient (DSC). On average, a DSC of 0.9025 was achieved, indicating that vessels can be extracted successfully from 4D ASL MRA datasets by the proposed segmentation method.
Renzo Phellan, Thomas Lindner, Alexandre X. Falcão, and Nils D. Forkert, "Vessel segmentation in 4D arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance angiography images of the brain," Proc. SPIE 10134, Medical Imaging 2017: Computer-Aided Diagnosis, 101341B (Presented at SPIE Medical Imaging: February 15, 2017; Published: 3 March 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2254119.
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