Doppler has been used for many years for cardiovascular exploration in order to visualize the vessels walls and anatomical or functional diseases. The use of ultrasound contrast agents makes it possible to improve ultrasonic information. Nonlinear ultrasound imaging highlights the detection of these agents within an organ and hence is a powerful technique to image perfusion of an organ in real-time. The visualization of flow and perfusion provides important information for the diagnosis of various diseases as well as for the detection of tumors.
However, the images are buried in noise, the speckle, inherent in the image formation. Furthermore at portal phase, there is often an absence of clear contrast between lesions and surrounding tissues because the organ is filled with agents.
In this context, we propose a new method of automatic liver lesions segmentation in nonlinear imaging sequences for the quantification of perfusion. Our method of segmentation is divided into two stages. Initially, we developed an anisotropic diffusion step which raised the structural characteristics to eliminate the speckle. Then, a fuzzy competitive clustering process allowed us to delineate liver lesions. This method has been used to detect focal hepatic lesions (metastasis, nodular hyperplasia, adenoma). Compared to medical expert’s report obtained on 15 varied lesions, the automatic segmentation allows us to identify and delineate focal liver lesions during the portal phase which high accuracy. Our results show that this method improves markedly the recognition of focal hepatic lesions and opens the way for future precise quantification of contrast enhancement.