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The human lungs are divided into five distinct anatomic compartments called the lobes, which are separated by the pulmonary fissures. The accurate identification of the fissures is of increasing importance in the early detection of pathologies, and in the regional functional analysis of the lungs. We have developed an automatic method for the segmentation and analysis of the fissures, based on the information provided by the segmentation and analysis of the airway and vascular trees. This information is used to provide a close initial approximation to the fissures, using a watershed transform on a distance map of the vasculature. In a further refinement step, this estimate is used to construct a region of interest (ROI) encompassing the fissures. The ROI is enhanced using a ridgeness measure, which is followed by a 3-D graph search to find the optimal surface within the ROI. We have also developed an automatic method to detect incomplete fissures, using a fast-marching based segmentation of a projection of the optimal surface. The detected incomplete fissure is used to extrapolate and smoothly complete the fissure. We evaluate the method by testing on data sets from normal subjects and subjects with mild to moderate emphysema.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2009