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Segmentation of multiple surfaces in medical images is a challenging problem, further complicated by the frequent presence of weak boundary evidence, large object deformations, and mutual influence between adjacent objects. This paper reports a novel approach to multi-object segmentation that incorporates both shape and context prior knowledge in a 3-D graph-theoretic framework to help overcome the stated challenges. We employ an arc-based graph representation to incorporate a wide spectrum of prior information through pair-wise energy terms. In particular, a shape-prior term is used to penalize local shape changes and a context-prior term is used to penalize local surface-distance changes from a model of the expected shape and surface distances, respectively. The globally optimal solution for multiple surfaces is obtained by computing a maximum flow in a low-order polynomial time. The proposed method was validated on intraretinal layer segmentation of optical coherence tomography images and demonstrated statistically significant improvement of segmentation accuracy compared to our earlier graph-search method that was not utilizing shape and context priors. The mean unsigned surface positioning errors obtained by the conventional graph-search approach (6.30 ±1.58 μ m) was improved to 5.14±0.99 μ m when employing our new method with shape and context priors.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013