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In this paper, we propose a general framework of adaptive local thresholding based on a verification-based multithreshold probing scheme. Object hypotheses are generated by binarization using hypothetic thresholds and accepted/rejected by a verification procedure. The application-dependent verification procedure can be designed to fully utilize all relevant informations about the objects of interest. In this sense, our approach is regarded as knowledge-guided adaptive thresholding, in contrast to most algorithms known from the literature. We apply our general framework to detect vessels in retinal images. An experimental evaluation demonstrates superior performance over global thresholding and a vessel detection method recently reported in the literature. Due to its simplicity and general nature, our novel approach is expected to be applicable to a variety of other applications.