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Lymph nodes are assessed routinely in clinical practice and their size is followed throughout radiation or chemotherapy to monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment. This paper presents a robust learning-based method for automatic detection and segmentation of solid lymph nodes from CT data, with the following contributions. First, it presents a learning based approach to solid lymph node detection that relies on marginal space learning to achieve great speedup with virtually no loss in accuracy. Second, it presents a computationally efficient segmentation method for solid lymph nodes (LN). Third, it introduces two new sets of features that are effective for LN detection, one that self-aligns to high gradients and another set obtained from the segmentation result. The method is evaluated for axillary LN detection on 131 volumes containing 371 LN, yielding a 83.0% detection rate with 1.0 false positive per volume. It is further evaluated for pelvic and abdominal LN detection on 54 volumes containing 569 LN, yielding a 80.0% detection rate with 3.2 false positives per volume. The running time is 5-20 s per volume for axillary areas and 15-40 s for pelvic. An added benefit of the method is the capability to detect and segment conglomerated lymph nodes.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2012