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In this paper, a new computer tomography (CT) lung nodule computer-aided detection (CAD) method is proposed for detecting both solid nodules and ground-glass opacity (GGO) nodules (part solid and nonsolid). This method consists of several steps. First, the lung region is segmented from the CT data using a fuzzy thresholding method. Then, the volumetric shape index map, which is based on local Gaussian and mean curvatures, and the ldquodotrdquo map, which is based on the eigenvalues of a Hessian matrix, are calculated for each voxel within the lungs to enhance objects of a specific shape with high spherical elements (such as nodule objects). The combination of the shape index (local shape information) and ldquodotrdquo features (local intensity dispersion information) provides a good structure descriptor for the initial nodule candidates generation. Antigeometric diffusion, which diffuses across the image edges, is used as a preprocessing step. The smoothness of image edges enables the accurate calculation of voxel-based geometric features. Adaptive thresholding and modified expectation-maximization methods are employed to segment potential nodule objects. Rule-based filtering is first used to remove easily dismissible nonnodule objects. This is followed by a weighted support vector machine (SVM) classification to further reduce the number of false positive (FP) objects. The proposed method has been trained and validated on a clinical dataset of 108 thoracic CT scans using a wide range of tube dose levels that contain 220 nodules (185 solid nodules and 35 GGO nodules) determined by a ground truth reading process. The data were randomly split into training and testing datasets. The experimental results using the independent dataset indicate an average detection rate of 90.2%, with approximately 8.2 FP/scan. Some challenging nodules such as nonspherical nodules and low-contrast part-solid and nonsolid nodules were identified, while most tissues such as blood vessels we- - re excluded. The method's high detection rate, fast computation, and applicability to different imaging conditions and nodule types shows much promise for clinical applications.
Date of Publication: July 2009