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Hypothesis Validation of Far-Wall Brightness in Carotid-Artery Ultrasound for Feature-Based IMT Measurement Using a Combination of Level-Set Segmentation and Registration

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8 Author(s)
Molinari, F. ; Dept. of Electron., Biolaboratory, Torino, Italy ; Krishnamurthi, G. ; Acharya, U.R. ; Sree, S.V.
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Intima-media thickness (IMT) is now being considered as an indicator of atherosclerosis. Our group has developed several feature-based IMT measurement algorithms such as the Completely Automated Layer EXtraction (CALEX) (which is a class of patented AtheroEdge Systems from Global Biomedical Technologies, Inc., CA, USA). These methods are based on the hypothesis that the highest pixel intensities are in the far wall of the common carotid artery (CCA) or the internal carotid artery (ICA). In this paper, we verify that this hypothesis holds true for B-mode longitudinal ultrasound (US) images of the carotid wall. This patented methodology consists of generating the composite image (the arithmetic sum of images) from the database by first registering the carotid image frames with respect to a nearly straight carotid-artery frame from the same database using: (1) B-spline-based nonrigid registration and (2) affine registration. Prior to registration, we segment the carotid-artery lumen using a level-set-based algorithm followed by morphological image processing. The binary lumen images are registered, and the transformations are applied to the original grayscale CCA images. We evaluated our technique using a database of 200 common carotid images of normal and pathologic carotids. The composite image presented the highest intensity distribution in the far wall of the CCA/ICA, validating our hypothesis. We have also demonstrated the accuracy and improvement in the IMT segmentation result with our CALEX 3.0 system. The CALEX system, when run on newly acquired US images, shows the IMT error of about 30 μm. Thus, we have shown that the CALEX algorithm is able to exploit the far-wall brightness for accurate IMT measurements.

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Instrumentation and Measurement, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:61 ,  Issue: 4 )