OBJECTIVE: We introduce descriptor-based segmentation that extends existing patch-based methods by combining intensities, features, and location information. Since it is unclear which image features are best suited for patch selection, we perform a broad empirical study on a multitude of different features. METHODS: We extend nonlocal means segmentation by including image features and location information. We search larger windows with an efficient nearest neighbor search based on kd-trees. We compare a large number of image features. RESULTS: The best results were obtained for entropy image features, which have not yet been used for patch-based segmentation. We further show that searching larger image regions with an approximate nearest neighbor search and location information yields a significant improvement over the bounded nearest neighbor search traditionally employed in patch-based segmentation methods. CONCLUSION: Features and location information significantly increase the segmentation accuracy. The best features highlight boundaries in the image. SIGNIFICANCE: Our detailed analysis of several aspects of nonlocal means-based segmentation yields new insights about patch and neighborhood sizes together with the inclusion of location information. The presented approach advances the state-of-the-art in the segmentation of parotid glands for radiation therapy planning.
Geodesic regression on images enables studies of brain development and degeneration, disease progression, and tumor growth. The high-dimensional nature of image data presents significant computational challenges for the current regression approaches and prohibits large scale studies. In this paper, we present a fast geodesic regression method that dramatically decreases the computational cost of the inference procedure while maintaining prediction accuracy. We employ an efficient low dimensional representation of diffeomorphic transformations derived from the image data and characterize the regressed trajectory in the space of diffeomorphisms by its initial conditions, i.e., an initial image template and an initial velocity field computed as a weighted average of pairwise diffeomorphic image registration results. This construction is achieved by using a first-order approximation of pairwise distances between images. We demonstrate the efficiency of our model on a set of 3D brain MRI scans from the OASIS dataset and show that it is dramatically faster than the state-of-the-art regression methods while producing equally good regression results on the large subject cohort.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the design and rationale for the genetic analysis of acute and chronic cerebrovascular neuroimaging phenotypes detected on clinical MRI in patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) within the scope of the MRI-GENetics Interface Exploration (MRI-GENIE) study. METHODS: MRI-GENIE capitalizes on the existing infrastructure of the Stroke Genetics Network (SiGN). In total, 12 international SiGN sites contributed MRIs of 3,301 patients with AIS. Detailed clinical phenotyping with the web-based Causative Classification of Stroke (CCS) system and genome-wide genotyping data were available for all participants. Neuroimaging analyses include the manual and automated assessments of established MRI markers. A high-throughput MRI analysis pipeline for the automated assessment of cerebrovascular lesions on clinical scans will be developed in a subset of scans for both acute and chronic lesions, validated against gold standard, and applied to all available scans. The extracted neuroimaging phenotypes will improve characterization of acute and chronic cerebrovascular lesions in ischemic stroke, including CCS subtypes, and their effect on functional outcomes after stroke. Moreover, genetic testing will uncover variants associated with acute and chronic MRI manifestations of cerebrovascular disease. CONCLUSIONS: The MRI-GENIE study aims to develop, validate, and distribute the MRI analysis platform for scans acquired as part of clinical care for patients with AIS, which will lead to (1) novel genetic discoveries in ischemic stroke, (2) strategies for personalized stroke risk assessment, and (3) personalized stroke outcome assessment.
We present an efficient probabilistic model of anatomical variability in a linear space of initial velocities of diffeomorphic transformations and demonstrate its benefits in clinical studies of brain anatomy. To overcome the computational challenges of the high dimensional deformation-based descriptors, we develop a latent variable model for principal geodesic analysis (PGA) based on a low dimensional shape descriptor that effectively captures the intrinsic variability in a population. We define a novel shape prior that explicitly represents principal modes as a multivariate complex Gaussian distribution on the initial velocities in a bandlimited space. We demonstrate the performance of our model on a set of 3D brain MRI scans from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. Our model yields a more compact representation of group variation at substantially lower computational cost than the state-of-the-art method such as tangent space PCA (TPCA) and probabilistic principal geodesic analysis (PPGA) that operate in the high dimensional image space.
The connectivity architecture of the human brain varies across individuals. Mapping functional anatomy at the individual level is challenging, but critical for basic neuroscience research and clinical intervention. Using resting-state functional connectivity, we parcellated functional systems in an "embedding space" based on functional characteristics common across the population, while simultaneously accounting for individual variability in the cortical distribution of functional units. The functional connectivity patterns observed in resting-state data were mapped in the embedding space and the maps were aligned across individuals. A clustering algorithm was performed on the aligned embedding maps and the resulting clusters were transformed back to the unique anatomical space of each individual. This novel approach identified functional systems that were reproducible within subjects, but were distributed across different anatomical locations in different subjects. Using this approach for intersubject alignment improved the predictability of individual differences in language laterality when compared with anatomical alignment alone. Our results further revealed that the strength of association between function and macroanatomy varied across the cortex, which was strong in unimodal sensorimotor networks, but weak in association networks.
Using image-based descriptors to investigate clinical hypotheses and therapeutic implications is challenging due to the notorious "curse of dimensionality" coupled with a small sample size. In this paper, we present a low-dimensional analysis of anatomical shape variability in the space of diffeomorphisms and demonstrate its benefits for clinical studies. To combat the high dimensionality of the deformation descriptors, we develop a probabilistic model of principal geodesic analysis in a bandlimited low-dimensional space that still captures the underlying variability of image data. We demonstrate the performance of our model on a set of 3D brain MRI scans from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. Our model yields a more compact representation of group variation at substantially lower computational cost than models based on the high-dimensional state-of-the-art approaches such as tangent space PCA (TPCA) and probabilistic principal geodesic analysis (PPGA).
We introduce a method for registration of brain images acquired in clinical settings. The algorithm relies on three-dimensional patches in a discrete registration framework to estimate correspondences. Clinical images present significant challenges for computational analysis. Fast acquisition often results in images with sparse slices, severe artifacts, and variable fields of view. Yet, large clinical datasets hold a wealth of clinically relevant information. Despite significant progress in image registration, most algorithms make strong assumptions about the continuity of image data, failing when presented with clinical images that violate these assumptions. In this paper, we demonstrate a non-rigid registration method for aligning such images. The method explicitly models the sparsely available image information to achieve robust registration. We demonstrate the algorithm on clinical images of stroke patients. The proposed method outperforms state of the art registration algorithms and avoids catastrophic failures often caused by these images. We provide a freely available open source implementation of the algorithm.
Emphysema is one of the hallmarks of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), a devastating lung disease often caused by smoking. Emphysema appears on Computed Tomography (CT) scans as a variety of textures that correlate with disease subtypes. It has been shown that the disease subtypes and textures are linked to physiological indicators and prognosis, although neither is well characterized clinically. Most previous computational approaches to modeling emphysema imaging data have focused on supervised classification of lung textures in patches of CT scans. In this work, we describe a generative model that jointly captures heterogeneity of disease subtypes and of the patient population. We also describe a corresponding inference algorithm that simultaneously discovers disease subtypes and population structure in an unsupervised manner. This approach enables us to create image-based descriptors of emphysema beyond those that can be identified through manual labeling of currently defined phenotypes. By applying the resulting algorithm to a large data set, we identify groups of patients and disease subtypes that correlate with distinct physiological indicators.
We present a robust method to correct for motion and deformations in in-utero volumetric MRI time series. Spatio-temporal analysis of dynamic MRI requires robust alignment across time in the presence of substantial and unpredictable motion. We make a Markov assumption on the nature of deformations to take advantage of the temporal structure in the image data. Forward message passing in the corresponding hidden Markov model (HMM) yields an estimation algorithm that only has to account for relatively small motion between consecutive frames. We demonstrate the utility of the temporal model by showing that its use improves the accuracy of the segmentation propagation through temporal registration. Our results suggest that the proposed model captures accurately the temporal dynamics of deformations in in-utero MRI time series.
We introduce a generative probabilistic model for segmentation of brain lesions in multi-dimensional images that generalizes the EM segmenter, a common approach for modelling brain images using Gaussian mixtures and a probabilistic tissue atlas that employs expectation-maximization (EM), to estimate the label map for a new image. Our model augments the probabilistic atlas of the healthy tissues with a latent atlas of the lesion. We derive an estimation algorithm with closed-form EM update equations. The method extracts a latent atlas prior distribution and the lesion posterior distributions jointly from the image data. It delineates lesion areas individually in each channel, allowing for differences in lesion appearance across modalities, an important feature of many brain tumor imaging sequences. We also propose discriminative model extensions to map the output of the generative model to arbitrary labels with semantic and biological meaning, such as "tumor core" or "fluid-filled structure", but without a one-to-one correspondence to the hypo- or hyper-intense lesion areas identified by the generative model. We test the approach in two image sets: the publicly available BRATS set of glioma patient scans, and multimodal brain images of patients with acute and subacute ischemic stroke. We find the generative model that has been designed for tumor lesions to generalize well to stroke images, and the extended discriminative-discriminative model to be one of the top ranking methods in the BRATS evaluation.
We propose a unified Bayesian framework for detecting genetic variants associated with disease by exploiting image-based features as an intermediate phenotype. The use of imaging data for examining genetic associations promises new directions of analysis, but currently the most widely used methods make sub-optimal use of the richness that these data types can offer. Currently, image features are most commonly selected based on their relevance to the disease phenotype. Then, in a separate step, a set of genetic variants is identified to explain the selected features. In contrast, our method performs these tasks simultaneously in order to jointly exploit information in both data types. The analysis yields probabilistic measures of clinical relevance for both imaging and genetic markers. We derive an efficient approximate inference algorithm that handles the high dimensionality of image and genetic data. We evaluate the algorithm on synthetic data and demonstrate that it outperforms traditional models. We also illustrate our method on Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative data.
We offer a blazingly brief review of evolution of shape analysis methods in medical imaging. As the representations and the statistical models grew more sophisticated, the problem of shape analysis has been gradually redefined to accept images rather than binary segmentations as a starting point. This transformation enabled shape analysis to take its rightful place in the arsenal of tools for extracting and understanding patterns in large clinical image sets. We speculate on the future developments in shape analysis and potential applications that would bring this mathematically rich area to bear on clinical practice.
We present an interactive algorithm to segment the heart chambers and epicardial surfaces, including the great vessel walls, in pediatric cardiac MRI of congenital heart disease. Accurate whole-heart segmentation is necessary to create patient-specific 3D heart models for surgical planning in the presence of complex heart defects. Anatomical variability due to congenital defects precludes fully automatic atlas-based segmentation. Our interactive segmentation method exploits expert segmentations of a small set of short-axis slice regions to automatically delineate the remaining volume using patch-based segmentation. We also investigate the potential of active learning to automatically solicit user input in areas where segmentation error is likely to be high. Validation is performed on four subjects with double outlet right ventricle, a severe congenital heart defect. We show that strategies asking the user to manually segment regions of interest within short-axis slices yield higher accuracy with less user input than those querying entire short-axis slices.
We introduce BrainPrint, a compact and discriminative representation of brain morphology. BrainPrint captures shape information of an ensemble of cortical and subcortical structures by solving the eigenvalue problem of the 2D and 3D Laplace-Beltrami operator on triangular (boundary) and tetrahedral (volumetric) meshes. This discriminative characterization enables new ways to study the similarity between brains; the focus can either be on a specific brain structure of interest or on the overall brain similarity. We highlight four applications for BrainPrint in this article: (i) subject identification, (ii) age and sex prediction, (iii) brain asymmetry analysis, and (iv) potential genetic influences on brain morphology. The properties of BrainPrint require the derivation of new algorithms to account for the heterogeneous mix of brain structures with varying discriminative power. We conduct experiments on three datasets, including over 3000 MRI scans from the ADNI database, 436 MRI scans from the OASIS dataset, and 236 MRI scans from the VETSA twin study. All processing steps for obtaining the compact representation are fully automated, making this processing framework particularly attractive for handling large datasets.
Registration performance can significantly deteriorate when image regions do not comply with model assumptions. Robust estimation improves registration accuracy by reducing or ignoring the contribution of voxels with large intensity differences, but existing approaches are limited to monomodal registration. In this work, we propose a robust and inverse-consistent technique for cross-modal, affine image registration. The algorithm is derived from a contextual framework of image registration. The key idea is to use a modality invariant representation of images based on local entropy estimation, and to incorporate a heteroskedastic noise model. This noise model allows us to draw the analogy to iteratively reweighted least squares estimation and to leverage existing weighting functions to account for differences in local information content in multimodal registration. Furthermore, we use the nonparametric windows density estimator to reliably calculate entropy of small image patches. Finally, we derive the Gauss-Newton update and show that it is equivalent to the efficient second-order minimization for the fully symmetric registration approach. We illustrate excellent performance of the proposed methods on datasets containing outliers for alignment of brain tumor, full head, and histology images.
We propose new methods for automatic segmentation of images based on an atlas of manually labeled scans and contours in the image. First, we introduce a Bayesian framework for creating initial label maps from manually annotated training images. Within this framework, we model various registration- and patch-based segmentation techniques by changing the deformation field prior. Second, we perform contour-driven regression on the created label maps to refine the segmentation. Image contours and image parcellations give rise to non-stationary kernel functions that model the relationship between image locations. Setting the kernel to the covariance function in a Gaussian process establishes a distribution over label maps supported by image structures. Maximum a posteriori estimation of the distribution over label maps conditioned on the outcome of the atlas-based segmentation yields the refined segmentation. We evaluate the segmentation in two clinical applications: the segmentation of parotid glands in head and neck CT scans and the segmentation of the left atrium in cardiac MR angiography images.
We present a generative probabilistic approach to discovery of disease subtypes determined by the genetic variants. In many diseases, multiple types of pathology may present simultaneously in a patient, making quantification of the disease challenging. Our method seeks common co-occurring image and genetic patterns in a population as a way to model these two different data types jointly. We assume that each patient is a mixture of multiple disease subtypes and use the joint generative model of image and genetic markers to identify disease subtypes guided by known genetic influences. Our model is based on a variant of the so-called topic models that uncover the latent structure in a collection of data. We derive an efficient variational inference algorithm to extract patterns of co-occurrence and to quantify the presence of heterogeneous disease processes in each patient. We evaluate the method on simulated data and illustrate its use in the context of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to characterize the relationship between image and genetic signatures of COPD subtypes in a large patient cohort.