Date Published:2001 Sep
The vasculature is of utmost importance in neurosurgery. Direct visualization of images acquired with current imaging modalities, however, cannot provide a spatial representation of small vessels. These vessels, and their branches which show considerable variations, are most important in planning and performing neurosurgical procedures. In planning they provide information on where the lesion draws its blood supply and where it drains. During surgery the vessels serve as landmarks and guidelines to the lesion. The more minute the information is, the more precise the navigation and localization of computer guided procedures. Beyond neurosurgery and neurological study, vascular information is also crucial in cardiovascular surgery, diagnosis, and research. This paper addresses the problem of automatic segmentation of complicated curvilinear structures in three-dimensional imagery, with the primary application of segmenting vasculature in magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) images. The method presented is based on recent curve and surface evolution work in the computer vision community which models the object boundary as a manifold that evolves iteratively to minimize an energy criterion. This energy criterion is based both on intensity values in the image and on local smoothness properties of the object boundary, which is the vessel wall in this application. In particular, the method handles curves evolving in 3D, in contrast with previous work that has dealt with curves in 2D and surfaces in 3D. Results are presented on cerebral and aortic MRA data as well as lung computed tomography (CT) data.