Segmentation of diffusion weighted MRI using the level set framework

Medical imaging is a rapidly growing field in which diffusion imaging is a recently developed modality. This novel imaging contrast permits in-vivo measurement of the diffusion of water molecules. This is particularly interesting in brain imaging where the diffusion reveals an amazing insight into the neuronal organization and cerebral cytoarchitecture. Diffusion images contain from six up to hundreds of values in each voxel and are represented as tensor fields (Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)) or as fields of functions (High Angular Resolution Diffusion (HARD) imaging). To fully extract the large amount of data contained within these images new processing and analysis tools are needed. The aim of this thesis is the development of such tools. The method we have been mainly focusing on for this purpose is the level set method. The level set method is a numerical and theoretical tool for propagating interfaces. In image processing it is used for propagating curves in 2D or surfaces in 3D for delineation of objects or for regularization purposes. In this thesis we have explored some of the numerous aspects of the level set frame work to see how the diffusion properties can be used for segmentation. For segmentation of tensor fields we have considered similarity measures for comparison of tensors. From these similarity measures several applications of the level set method have been developed for the segmentation of different structures. Different measures of similarity have been used dependent on the application. When segmenting white matter regions in DTI, the similarity measure emphasizes anisotropic regions. The segmentation algorithm itself has a very local dependence since white matter, in general fiber tracts, experiences different diffusion in different parts of the structure. The presented results show segmentations of the major fiber tracts in the brain. Other structures, such as the deep cerebral nuclei, that are mainly composed of gray matter, have more homogenous diffusion properties than white matter structures. Therefore, in these structures we maximize the internal coherence within the entire structure by using a region based approach to the segmentation problem. Segmentations of the thalamus and its nuclei as well as on tensor fields from fluid mechanics are presented. For High Angular Resolution Diffusion (HARD) images, two methods for fiber tract segmentation are presented based on different types of coherence. The coherence is either measured as the similarity between fibers obtained from a tractography algorithm, or the similarity of scalar values in a five-dimensional non-Euclidean space. The similarity between two fibers is determined by a counting strategy and is equal to the number of voxels they have in common. A spectral clustering algorithm is then used for grouping fibers with a high inter-resemblance. When segmenting white matter with the level set method, we propose to expand the space we are working in from a three-dimensional space of Orientation Distribution Functions (ODF) to a five-dimensional space of position and orientation. By a careful definition of this space and an adaptation of the level set to five dimensions the fibers tracts can be segmented as separated structures. We show some preliminary results from segmentations in this 5D space. The approaches proposed in this thesis permit a consideration of the fiber tracts and gray matter structures as an entity, allowing quantitative measures of the diffusion without losing information by simplifying the images to scalar representations.

Thiran, Jean-Philippe
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis3315-4

 Record created 2005-07-12, last modified 2018-03-17

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