Wachinger C, Fritscher K, Sharp G, Golland P. Contour-Driven Atlas-Based Segmentation. IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2015;34(12):2492–505.

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.

Wachinger C, Golland P, Magnain C, Fischl B, Reuter M. Multi-modal Robust Inverse-consistent Linear Registration. Hum Brain Mapp. 2015;36(4):1365–80.

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.

Wachinger C, Golland P, Kremen W, Fischl B, Reuter M, Initiative A s DN. BrainPrint: A Discriminative Characterization of Brain Morphology. Neuroimage. 2015;109:232–48.

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.

Szczepankiewicz F, Lasič S, van Westen D, Sundgren PC, Englund E, Westin CF, Ståhlberg F, Lätt J, Topgaard D, Nilsson M. Quantification of Microscopic Diffusion Anisotropy Disentangles Effects of Orientation Dispersion from Microstructure: Applications in Healthy Volunteers and in Brain Tumors. Neuroimage. 2015;104:241–52.

The anisotropy of water diffusion in brain tissue is affected by both disease and development. This change can be detected using diffusion MRI and is often quantified by the fractional anisotropy (FA) derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Although FA is sensitive to anisotropic cell structures, such as axons, it is also sensitive to their orientation dispersion. This is a major limitation to the use of FA as a biomarker for "tissue integrity", especially in regions of complex microarchitecture. In this work, we seek to circumvent this limitation by disentangling the effects of microscopic diffusion anisotropy from the orientation dispersion. The microscopic fractional anisotropy (μFA) and the order parameter (OP) were calculated from the contrast between signal prepared with directional and isotropic diffusion encoding, where the latter was achieved by magic angle spinning of the q-vector (qMAS). These parameters were quantified in healthy volunteers and in two patients; one patient with meningioma and one with glioblastoma. Finally, we used simulations to elucidate the relation between FA and μFA in various micro-architectures. Generally, μFA was high in the white matter and low in the gray matter. In the white matter, the largest differences between μFA and FA were found in crossing white matter and in interfaces between large white matter tracts, where μFA was high while FA was low. Both tumor types exhibited a low FA, in contrast to the μFA which was high in the meningioma and low in the glioblastoma, indicating that the meningioma contained disordered anisotropic structures, while the glioblastoma did not. This interpretation was confirmed by histological examination. We conclude that FA from DTI reflects both the amount of diffusion anisotropy and orientation dispersion. We suggest that the μFA and OP may complement FA by independently quantifying the microscopic anisotropy and the level of orientation coherence.

Pasternak O, Westin CF, Dahlben B, Bouix S, Kubicki M. The Extent of Diffusion MRI Markers of Neuroinflammation and White Matter Deterioration in Chronic Schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2015;161(1):113–8.

In a previous study we have demonstrated, using a novel diffusion MRI analysis called free-water imaging, that the early stages of schizophrenia are more likely associated with a neuroinflammatory response and less so with a white matter deterioration or a demyelination process. What is not known is how neuroinflammation and white matter deterioration change along the progression of the disorder. In this study we apply the free-water measures on a population of 29 chronic schizophrenia subjects and compare them with 25 matching controls. Our aim was to compare the extent of free-water imaging abnormalities in chronic subjects with the ones previously obtained for subjects at their first psychotic episode. We find that chronic subjects showed a limited extent of abnormal increase in the volume of the extracellular space, suggesting a less extensive neuroinflammatory response relative to patients at the onset of schizophrenia. At the same time, the chronic schizophrenia subjects had greater extent of reduced fractional anisotropy compared to the previous study, suggesting increased white matter deterioration along the progression of the disease. Our findings substantiate the role of neuroinflammation in the earlier stages of the disorder, and the effect of neurodegeneration that is worsening in the chronic phase.

Klein T, Wells WM III. RF Ultrasound Distribution-Based Confidence Maps. Int Conf Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2015;18(Pt2):595–602.

Ultrasound is becoming an ever increasingly important modality in medical care. However, underlying physical acquisition principles are prone to image artifacts and result in overall quality variation. Therefore processing medical ultrasound data remains a challenging task. We propose a novel distribution-based measure of assessing the confidence in the signal, which emphasizes uncertainty in attenuated as well as shadow regions. In contrast to the similar recently proposed method that relies on image intensities, the new approach makes use of the enveloped-detected radio-frequency data, facilitating the use of Nakagami speckle statistics. Employing J-divergence as distance measure for the random-walk based algorithm, provides a natural measure of similarity, yielding a more reliable estimate of confidence. For evaluation of the model’s performance, tests are conducted on the application of shadow detection. Additionally, computed maps are presented for different organs such as neck, liver and prostate, showcasing the properties of the model. The probabilistic approach is shown to have beneficial features for image processing tasks. 

Pace DF, Dalca A V, Geva T, Powell AJ, Moghari MH, Golland P. Interactive Whole-Heart Segmentation in Congenital Heart Disease. Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2015;9351:80–8.

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.

Ning L, Georgiou TT, Tannenbaum A. On Matrix-Valued Monge-Kantorovich Optimal Mass Transport. IEEE Trans Automat Contr. 2015;60(2):373–82.
We present a particular formulation of optimal transport for matrix-valued density functions. Our aim is to devise a geometry which is suitable for comparing power spectral densities of multivariable time series. More specifically, the value of a power spectral density at a given frequency, which in the matricial case encodes power as well as directionality, is thought of as a proxy for a "matrix-valued mass density." Optimal transport aims at establishing a natural metric in the space of such matrix-valued densities which takes into account differences between power across frequencies as well as misalignment of the corresponding principle axes. Thus, our transportation cost includes a cost of transference of power between frequencies together with a cost of rotating the principle directions of matrix densities. The two endpoint matrix-valued densities can be thought of as marginals of a joint matrix-valued density on a tensor product space. This joint density, very much as in the classical Monge-Kantorovich setting, can be thought to specify the transportation plan. Contrary to the classical setting, the optimal transport plan for matrices is no longer supported on a thin zero-measure set.
Ratner V, Zhu L, Kolesov I, Nedergaard M, Benveniste H, Tannenbaum A. Optimal-mass-transfer-based estimation of glymphatic transport in living brain. Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng. 2015;9413.
It was recently shown that the brain-wide cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial fluid exchange system designated the ’glymphatic pathway’ plays a key role in removing waste products from the brain, similarly to the lymphatic system in other body organs(1,2). It is therefore important to study the flow patterns of glymphatic transport through the live brain in order to better understand its functionality in normal and pathological states. Unlike blood, the CSF does not flow rapidly through a network of dedicated vessels, but rather through para-vascular channels and brain parenchyma in a slower time-domain, and thus conventional fMRI or other blood-flow sensitive MRI sequences do not provide much useful information about the desired flow patterns. We have accordingly analyzed a series of MRI images, taken at different times, of the brain of a live rat, which was injected with a paramagnetic tracer into the CSF via the lumbar intrathecal space of the spine. Our goal is twofold: (a) find glymphatic (tracer) flow directions in the live rodent brain; and (b) provide a model of a (healthy) brain that will allow the prediction of tracer concentrations given initial conditions. We model the liquid flow through the brain by the diffusion equation. We then use the Optimal Mass Transfer (OMT) approach(3) to derive the glymphatic flow vector field, and estimate the diffusion tensors by analyzing the (changes in the) flow. Simulations show that the resulting model successfully reproduces the dominant features of the experimental data.