A Heuristic Image Search Algorithm for Active Shape Model Segmentation of the Caudate Nucleus and Hippocampus in Brain MR Images of Children with FASD

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South African Computer Journal

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South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists


University of Cape Town

Magnetic Resonance Imaging provides a non-invasive means to study the neural correlates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) - the most common form of preventable mental retardation worldwide. One approach aims to detect brain abnormalities through an assessment of volume and shape of two sub-cortical structures, the caudate nucleus and hippocampus. We present a method for automatically segmenting these structures from high-resolution MR images captured as part of an ongoing study into the neural correlates of FASD. Our method incorporates an Active Shape Model, which is used to learn shape variation from manually segmented training data. A modified discrete Geometrically Deformable Model is used to generate point correspondence between training models. An ASM is then created from the landmark points. Experiments were conducted on the image search phase of ASM segmentation, in order to find the technique best suited to segmentation of the hippocampus and caudate nucleus. Various popular image search techniques were tested, including an edge detection method and a method based on grey profile Mahalanobis distance measurement. A novel heuristic image search method was also developed and tested. This heuristic method improves image segmentation by taking advantage of characteristics specific to the target data, such as a relatively homogeneous tissue colour in target structures. Results show that ASMs that use the heuristic image search technique produce the most accurate segmentations. An ASM constructed using this technique will enable researchers to quickly, reliably, and automatically segment test data for use in the FASD study.