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Multi-chamber heart segmentation is a prerequisite for global quantification of the cardiac function. The complexity of cardiac anatomy, poor contrast, noise or motion artifacts makes this segmentation problem a challenging task. In this paper, we present an efficient, robust, and fully automatic segmentation method for 3D cardiac computed tomography (CT) volumes. Our approach is based on recent advances in learning discriminative object models and we exploit a large database of annotated CT volumes. We formulate the segmentation as a two step learning problem: anatomical structure localization and boundary delineation. A novel algorithm, marginal space learning (MSL), is introduced to solve the 9-dimensional similarity search problem for localizing the heart chambers. MSL reduces the number of testing hypotheses by about six orders of magnitude. We also propose to use steerable image features, which incorporate the orientation and scale information into the distribution of sampling points, thus avoiding the time-consuming volume data rotation operations. After determining the similarity transformation of the heart chambers, we estimate the 3D shape through learning-based boundary delineation. Extensive experiments on multi-chamber heart segmentation demonstrate the efficiency and robustness of the proposed approach, comparing favorably to the state-of-the-art. This is the first study reporting stable results on a large cardiac CT dataset with 323 volumes. In addition, we achieve a speed of less than eight seconds for automatic segmentation of all four chambers.
Date of Conference: 14-21 Oct. 2007