Statistical Inference for Imaging and Disease Core Publications

Pace DF, Dalca AV, Brosch T, Geva T, Powell AJ, Weese J, Moghari MH, Golland P. Iterative Segmentation from Limited Training Data: Applications to Congenital Heart Disease. Deep Learn Med Image Anal Multimodal Learn Clin Decis Support (2018). 2018;11045 :334-42.Abstract
We propose a new iterative segmentation model which can be accurately learned from a small dataset. A common approach is to train a model to directly segment an image, requiring a large collection of manually annotated images to capture the anatomical variability in a cohort. In contrast, we develop a segmentation model that recursively evolves a segmentation in several steps, and implement it as a recurrent neural network. We learn model parameters by optimizing the intermediate steps of the evolution in addition to the final segmentation. To this end, we train our segmentation propagation model by presenting incomplete and/or inaccurate input segmentations paired with a recommended next step. Our work aims to alleviate challenges in segmenting heart structures from cardiac MRI for patients with congenital heart disease (CHD), which encompasses a range of morphological deformations and topological changes. We demonstrate the advantages of this approach on a dataset of 20 images from CHD patients, learning a model that accurately segments individual heart chambers and great vessels. Compared to direct segmentation, the iterative method yields more accurate segmentation for patients with the most severe CHD malformations.
Wang J, Wells WM, Golland P, Zhang M. Efficient Laplace Approximation for Bayesian Registration Uncertainty Quantification. Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2018;11070 :880-8.Abstract
This paper presents a novel approach to modeling the pos terior distribution in image registration that is computationally efficient for large deformation diffeomorphic metric mapping (LDDMM). We develop a Laplace approximation of Bayesian registration models entirely in a bandlimited space that fully describes the properties of diffeomorphic transformations. In contrast to current methods, we compute the inverse Hessian at the mode of the posterior distribution of diffeomorphisms directly in the low dimensional frequency domain. This dramatically reduces the computational complexity of approximating posterior marginals in the high dimensional imaging space. Experimental results show that our method is significantly faster than the state-of-the-art diffeomorphic image registration uncertainty quantification algorithms, while producing comparable results. The efficiency of our method strengthens the feasibility in prospective clinical applications, e.g., real- time image-guided navigation for brain surgery.
Dalca AV, Bouman KL, Freeman WT, Rost NS, Sabuncu MR, Golland P. Medical Image Imputation from Image Collections. IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2018.Abstract
We present an algorithm for creating high resolution anatomically plausible images consistent with acquired clinical brain MRI scans with large inter-slice spacing. Although large data sets of clinical images contain a wealth of information, time constraints during acquisition result in sparse scans that fail to capture much of the anatomy. These characteristics often render computational analysis impractical as many image analysis algorithms tend to fail when applied to such images. Highly specialized algorithms that explicitly handle sparse slice spacing do not generalize well across problem domains. In contrast, we aim to enable application of existing algorithms that were originally developed for high resolution research scans to significantly undersampled scans. We introduce a generative model that captures fine-scale anatomical structure across subjects in clinical image collections and derive an algorithm for filling in the missing data in scans with large inter-slice spacing. Our experimental results demonstrate that the resulting method outperforms state-of-the-art upsampling super-resolution techniques, and promises to facilitate subsequent analysis not previously possible with scans of this quality. Our implementation is freely available at
Luo J, Frisken S, Machado I, Zhang M, Pieper S, Golland P, Toews M, Unadkat P, Sedghi A, Zhou H, et al. Using the Variogram for Vector Outlier Screening: Application to Feature-based Image Registration. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2018;13 (12) :1871-80.Abstract
PURPOSE: Matching points that are derived from features or landmarks in image data is a key step in some medical imaging applications. Since most robust point matching algorithms claim to be able to deal with outliers, users may place high confidence in the matching result and use it without further examination. However, for tasks such as feature-based registration in image-guided neurosurgery, even a few mismatches, in the form of invalid displacement vectors, could cause serious consequences. As a result, having an effective tool by which operators can manually screen all matches for outliers could substantially benefit the outcome of those applications. METHODS: We introduce a novel variogram-based outlier screening method for vectors. The variogram is a powerful geostatistical tool for characterizing the spatial dependence of stochastic processes. Since the spatial correlation of invalid displacement vectors, which are considered as vector outliers, tends to behave differently than normal displacement vectors, they can be efficiently identified on the variogram. RESULTS: We validate the proposed method on 9 sets of clinically acquired ultrasound data. In the experiment, potential outliers are flagged on the variogram by one operator and further evaluated by 8 experienced medical imaging researchers. The matching quality of those potential outliers is approximately 1.5 lower, on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (good), than valid displacement vectors. CONCLUSION: The variogram is a simple yet informative tool. While being used extensively in geostatistical analysis, it has not received enough attention in the medical imaging field. We believe there is a good deal of potential for clinically applying the proposed outlier screening method. By way of this paper, we also expect researchers to find variogram useful in other medical applications that involve motion vectors analyses.
Chen Y, Georgiou TT, Ning L, Tannenbaum A. Matricial Wasserstein-1 Distance. IEEE Control Syst Lett. 2017;1 (1) :14-9.Abstract
We propose an extension of the Wasserstein 1-metric (W1) for density matrices, matrix-valued density measures, and an unbalanced interpretation of mass transport. We use duality theory and, in particular, a "dual of the dual" formulation of W1. This matrix analogue of the Earth Mover's Distance has several attractive features including ease of computation.
Dalca AV, Bouman K L, Freeman WT, Rost NS, Sabuncu MR, Golland P. Population Based Image Imputation. Inf Process Med Imaging. 2017;10265 (659-71).
Zhang M, Liao R, Dalca AV, Turk E, Luo J, Grant E, Golland P. Frequency Diffeomorphisms for Efficient Image Registration. Inf Process Med Imaging. 2017;10265 :559-70.
Wachinger C, Brennan M, Sharp GC, Golland P. Efficient Descriptor-Based Segmentation of Parotid Glands With Nonlocal Means. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2017;64 (7) :1492-1502.Abstract
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.
Hong Y, Golland P, Zhang M. Fast Geodesic Regression for Population-Based Image Analysis. Int Conf Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2017;20 (Pt1) :317-25.Abstract
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.
Giese A-K, Schirmer MD, Donahue KL, Cloonan L, Irie R, Winzeck S, Bouts MJRJ, McIntosh EC, Mocking SJ, Dalca AV, et al. Design and Rationale for Examining Neuroimaging Genetics in Ischemic Stroke: The MRI-GENIE Study. Neurol Genet. 2017;3 (5) :e180.Abstract
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.
Zhang M, Wells WM, Golland P. Probabilistic Modeling of Anatomical Variability using a Low Dimensional Parameterization of Diffeomorphisms. Med Image Anal. 2017;41 :55-62.Abstract
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.
Binder P, Batmanghelich KN, Estepar RSJ, Golland P. Unsupervised Discovery of Emphysema Subtypes in a Large Clinical Cohort. Int Conf Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. Workshop on Machine Learning in Medical Imaging. 2016;19 (WS) :180-7.
Langs G, Wang D, Golland P, Mueller S, Pan R, Sabuncu MR, Sun W, Li K, Liu H. Identifying Shared Brain Networks in Individuals by Decoupling Functional and Anatomical Variability. Cereb Cortex. 2016;26 (10) :4004-14.Abstract
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.
Zhang M, Wells WM, Golland P. Low-Dimensional Statistics of Anatomical Variability via Compact Representation of Image Deformations. Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2016;9902 :166-73.Abstract
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).
Dalca AV, Bobu A, Rost NS, Golland P. Patch-Based Discrete Registration of Clinical Brain Images. Patch Based Tech Med Imaging. 2016;9993 :60-67.Abstract
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.
Binder P, Batmanghelich NK, Estepar RSJ, Golland P. Unsupervised Discovery of Emphysema Subtypes in a Large Clinical Cohort. Mach Learn Med Imaging. 2016;10019 :180-7.Abstract

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.

Liao R, Turk EA, Zhang M, Luo J, Grant PE, Adalsteinsson E, Golland P. Temporal Registration in In-Utero Volumetric MRI Time Series, in Int Conf Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. Vol 19. ; 2016 :54-62.Abstract

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.

Menze BH, Van Leemput K, Lashkari D, Riklin-Raviv T, Geremia E, Alberts E, Gruber P, Wegener S, Weber M-A, Szekely G, et al. A Generative Probabilistic Model and Discriminative Extensions for Brain Lesion Segmentation - with Application to Tumor and Stroke. IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2016;35 (4) :933-46.Abstract

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.

Batmanghelich NK, Dalca A, Quon G, Sabuncu M, Golland P. Probabilistic Modeling of Imaging, Genetics and Diagnosis. IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2016;35 (7) :1765-79.Abstract

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.

Zhang M, Golland P. Statistical Shape Analysis: From Landmarks to Diffeomorphisms. Med Image Anal. 2016;33 :155-8.Abstract

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.