Locating blood vessels in retinal images by piecewise threshold probing of a matched filter response

IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2000 Mar;19(3):203-10. doi: 10.1109/42.845178.


We describe an automated method to locate and outline blood vessels in images of the ocular fundus. Such a tool should prove useful to eye care specialists for purposes of patient screening, treatment evaluation, and clinical study. Our method differs from previously known methods in that it uses local and global vessel features cooperatively to segment the vessel network. We evaluate our method using hand-labeled ground truth segmentations of 20 images. A plot of the operating characteristic shows that our method reduces false positives by as much as 15 times over basic thresholding of a matched filter response (MFR), at up to a 75% true positive rate. For a baseline, we also compared the ground truth against a second hand-labeling, yielding a 90% true positive and a 4% false positive detection rate, on average. These numbers suggest there is still room for a 15% true positive rate improvement, with the same false positive rate, over our method. We are making all our images and hand labelings publicly available for interested researchers to use in evaluating related methods.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retina / anatomy & histology*
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Vessels / anatomy & histology*