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High-resolution X-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging is routinely used for clinical pulmonary applications. Since lung function varies regionally and because pulmonary disease is usually not uniformly distributed in the lungs, it is useful to study the lungs on a lobe-by-lobe basis. Thus, it is important to segment not only the lungs, but the lobar fissures as well. In this paper, we demonstrate the use of an anatomic pulmonary atlas, encoded with a priori information on the pulmonary anatomy, to automatically segment the oblique lobar fissures. Sixteen volumetric CT scans from 16 subjects are used to construct the pulmonary atlas. A ridgeness measure is applied to the original CT images to enhance the fissure contrast. Fissure detection is accomplished in two stages: an initial fissure search and a final fissure search. A fuzzy reasoning system is used in the fissure search to analyze information from three sources: the image intensity, an anatomic smoothness constraint, and the atlas-based search initialization. Our method has been tested on 22 volumetric thin-slice CT scans from 12 subjects, and the results are compared to manual tracings. Averaged across all 22 data sets, the RMS error between the automatically segmented and manually segmented fissures is 1.96±0.71 mm and the mean of the similarity indices between the manually defined and computer-defined lobe regions is 0.988. The results indicate a strong agreement between the automatic and manual lobe segmentations.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2006