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A new generic model-based segmentation algorithm is presented, which can be trained from examples akin to the active shape model (ASM) approach in order to acquire knowledge about the shape to be segmented and about the gray-level appearance of the object in the image. Whereas ASM alternates between shape and intensity information during search, the proposed approach optimizes for shape and intensity characteristics simultaneously. Local gray-level appearance information at the landmark points extracted from feature images is used to automatically detect a number of plausible candidate locations for each landmark. The shape information is described by multiple landmark-specific statistical models that capture local dependencies between adjacent landmarks on the shape. The shape and intensity models are combined in a single cost function that is optimized noniteratively using dynamic programming, without the need for initialization. The algorithm was validated for segmentation of anatomical structures in chest and hand radiographs. In each experiment, the presented method had a significant higher performance when compared to the ASM schemes. As the method is highly effective, optimally suited for pathological cases and easy to implement, it is highly useful for many medical image segmentation tasks.