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.
Medical image segmentation is crucial for quantitative organ analysis and surgical planning. Since interactive segmentation is not practical in a production-mode clinical setting, automatic methods based on 3D object appearance models have been proposed. Among them, approaches based on object atlas are the most actively investigated. A key drawback of these approaches is that they require a time-costly image registration process to build and deploy the atlas. Object cloud models (OCM) have been introduced to avoid registration, considerably speeding up the whole process, but they have not been compared to object atlas models (OAM). The present paper fills this gap by presenting a comparative analysis of the two approaches in the task of individually segmenting nine anatomical structures of the human body. Our results indicate that OCM achieve a statistically significant better accuracy for seven anatomical structures, in terms of Dice Similarity Coefficient and Average Symmetric Surface Distance.