Feature-based fuzzy connectedness segmentation of ultrasound images with an object completion step.
Rueda S., Knight CL., Papageorghiou AT., Noble JA.
Medical ultrasound (US) image segmentation and quantification can be challenging due to signal dropouts, missing boundaries, and presence of speckle, which gives images of similar objects quite different appearance. Typically, purely intensity-based methods do not lead to a good segmentation of the structures of interest. Prior work has shown that local phase and feature asymmetry, derived from the monogenic signal, extract structural information from US images. This paper proposes a new US segmentation approach based on the fuzzy connectedness framework. The approach uses local phase and feature asymmetry to define a novel affinity function, which drives the segmentation algorithm, incorporates a shape-based object completion step, and regularises the result by mean curvature flow. To appreciate the accuracy and robustness of the methodology across clinical data of varying appearance and quality, a novel entropy-based quantitative image quality assessment of the different regions of interest is introduced. The new method is applied to 81 US images of the fetal arm acquired at multiple gestational ages, as a means to define a new automated image-based biomarker of fetal nutrition. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation shows that the segmentation method is comparable to manual delineations and robust across image qualities that are typical of clinical practice.