An Information Tracking Approach to the Segmentation of Prostates in Ultrasound Imaging
Xu, Robert Sheng
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Outlining of the prostate boundary in ultrasound images is a very useful procedure performed and subsequently used by clinicians. The contribution of the resulting segmentation is twofold. First of all, the segmentation of the prostate glands can be used to analyze the size, geometry, and volume of the gland. Such analysis is useful as it is known that the former quantities used in conjunction with a PSA blood test can be used as an indicator of malignancy in the gland itself. The second purpose of accurate segmentation is for treatment planning purposes. In brachetherapy, commonly used to treat localized prostate cancer, the accurate location of the prostate must be found so that the radioactive seeds can be placed precisely in the malignant regions. Unfortunately, the current method of segmentation of ultrasound images is performed manually by expert radiologists. Due to the abundance of ultrasound data, the process of manual segmentation can be extremely time consuming and inefficient. A much more desirable way to perform the segmentation process is through automatic procedures, which should be able to accurately and efficiently extract the boundary of the prostate gland with minimal user intervention. This is the ultimate goal of the proposed approach. The proposed segmentation algorithm uses a probability distribution tracking framework to accurately and efficiently perform the task at hand. The basis for this methodology is to extract image and shape features from available manually segmented ultrasound images for which the actual prostate region is known. Then, the segmentation algorithm seeks a region in new ultrasound images whose features closely mirror the learned features of known prostate regions. Promising results were achieved using this method in a series of in silico and in vivo experiments.