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Method to correct intensity inhomogeneity in MR images for atherosclerosis characterization

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4 Author(s)
Salvado, O. ; Dept. of Biomed. Eng., Case Western Reserve Univ., Cleveland, OH, USA ; Hillenbrand, C. ; Shaoxiang Zhang ; Wilson, D.L.

We are developing methods to characterize atherosclerotic disease in human carotid arteries using multiple MR images having different contrast mechanisms (T1W, T2W, PDW). To enable the use of voxel gray values for interpretation of disease, we created a new method, local entropy minimization with a bicubic spline model (LEMS), to correct the severe (≈80%) intensity inhomogeneity that arises from the surface coil array. This entropy-based method does not require classification and robustly addresses some problems that are more severe than those found in brain imaging, including noise, steep bias field, sensitivity of artery wall voxels to edge artifacts, and signal voids near the artery wall. Validation studies were performed on a synthetic digital phantom with realistic intensity inhomogeneity, a physical phantom roughly mimicking the neck, and patient carotid artery images. We compared LEMS to a modified fuzzy c-means segmentation based method (mAFCM), and a linear filtering method (LINF). Following LEMS correction, skeletal muscles in patient images were relatively isointense across the field of view. In the physical phantom, LEMS reduced the variation in the image to 1.9 % and across the vessel wall region to 2.5 %, a value which should be sufficient to distinguish plaque tissue types, based on literature measurements. In conclusion, we believe that the correction method shows promise for aiding human and computerized tissue classification from MR signal intensities.

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Medical Imaging, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 5 )