This paper proposes an automatic method for vertebra localization, labeling, and segmentation in multi-slice Magnetic Resonance (MR) images. Prior work in this area on MR images mostly requires user interaction while our method is fully automatic. Cubic intensity-based features are extracted from image voxels. A deep learning approach is used for simultaneous localization and identification of vertebrae. The localized points are refined by local thresholding in the region of the detected vertebral column. Thereafter, a statistical multi-vertebrae model is initialized on the localized vertebrae. An iterative Expectation Maximization technique is used to register the vertebral body of the model to the image edges and obtain a segmentation of the lumbar vertebral bodies. The method is evaluated by applying to nine volumetric MR images of the spine. The results demonstrate 100% vertebra identification and a mean surface error of below 2.8 mm for 3D segmentation. Computation time is less than three minutes per high-resolution volumetric image.
Segmentation of vertebral structures in magnetic resonance (MR) images is challenging because of poor contrast between bone surfaces and surrounding soft tissue. This paper describes a semi-automatic method for segmenting vertebral bodies in multi-slice MR images. In order to achieve a fast and reliable segmentation, the method takes advantage of the correlation between shape and pose of different vertebrae in the same patient by using a statistical multi-vertebrae anatomical shape+pose model. Given a set of MR images of the spine, we initially reduce the intensity inhomogeneity in the images by using an intensity-correction algorithm. Then a 3D anisotropic diffusion filter smooths the images. Afterwards, we extract edges from a relatively small region of the pre-processed image with a simple user interaction. Subsequently, an iterative Expectation Maximization technique is used to register the statistical multi-vertebrae anatomical model to the extracted edge points in order to achieve a fast and reliable segmentation for lumbar vertebral bodies. We evaluate our method in terms of speed and accuracy by applying it to volumetric MR images of the spine acquired from nine patients. Quantitative and visual results demonstrate that the method is promising for segmentation of vertebral bodies in volumetric MR images.