In this study, a localized anatomically constrained affine optical flow method is proposed for fast and automatic LV tracking throughout the full cardiac cycle in short-axis CMR images. Starting from an automatically delineated LV in the end-diastolic frame, the endocardial and epicardial boundaries are propagated by estimating the motion between adjacent cardiac phases using optical flow. In order to reduce the computational burden, the motion is only estimated in an anatomical region of interest around the tracked boundaries and subsequently integrated into a local affine motion model. Such localized estimation enables to capture complex motion patterns, while still being spatially consistent.
The method was validated on 45 CMR datasets taken from the 2009 MICCAI LV segmentation challenge. The proposed approach proved to be robust and efficient, with an average distance error of 2.1 mm and a correlation with reference ejection fraction of 0.98 (1.9 ± 4.5%). Moreover, it showed to be fast, taking 5 seconds for the tracking of a full 4D dataset (30 ms per image). Overall, a novel fast, robust and accurate LV tracking methodology was proposed, enabling accurate assessment of relevant global function cardiac indices, such as volumes and ejection fraction