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Partitioning Histopathological Images: An Integrated Framework for Supervised Color-Texture Segmentation and Cell Splitting

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3 Author(s)
Hui Kong ; Dept. of Biomed. Inf., Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH, USA ; Gurcan, M. ; Belkacem-Boussaid, K.

For quantitative analysis of histopathological images, such as the lymphoma grading systems, quantification of features is usually carried out on single cells before categorizing them by classification algorithms. To this end, we propose an integrated framework consisting of a novel supervised cell-image segmentation algorithm and a new touching-cell splitting method. For the segmentation part, we segment the cell regions from the other areas by classifying the image pixels into either cell or extra-cellular category. Instead of using pixel color intensities, the color-texture extracted at the local neighborhood of each pixel is utilized as the input to our classification algorithm. The color-texture at each pixel is extracted by local Fourier transform (LFT) from a new color space, the most discriminant color space (MDC). The MDC color space is optimized to be a linear combination of the original RGB color space so that the extracted LFT texture features in the MDC color space can achieve most discrimination in terms of classification (segmentation) performance. To speed up the texture feature extraction process, we develop an efficient LFT extraction algorithm based on image shifting and image integral. For the splitting part, given a connected component of the segmentation map, we initially differentiate whether it is a touching-cell clump or a single nontouching cell. The differentiation is mainly based on the distance between the most likely radial-symmetry center and the geometrical center of the connected component. The boundaries of touching-cell clumps are smoothed out by Fourier shape descriptor before carrying out an iterative, concave-point and radial-symmetry based splitting algorithm. To test the validity, effectiveness and efficiency of the framework, it is applied to follicular lymphoma pathological images, which exhibit complex background and extracellular texture with nonuniform illumination condition. For comparison purposes, the results of the p- oposed segmentation algorithm are evaluated against the outputs of superpixel, graph-cut, mean-shift, and two state-of-the-art pathological image segmentation methods using ground-truth that was established by manual segmentation of cells in the original images. Our segmentation algorithm achieves better results than the other compared methods. The results of splitting are evaluated in terms of under-splitting, over-splitting, and encroachment errors. By summing up the three types of errors, we achieve a total error rate of 5.25% per image.

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Medical Imaging, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 9 )