Incorporating domain knowledge into the fuzzy connectedness framework: application to brain lesion volume estimation in multiple sclerosis

IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2007 Dec;26(12):1670-80. doi: 10.1109/tmi.2007.901431.


A method for incorporating prior knowledge into the fuzzy connectedness image segmentation framework is presented. This prior knowledge is in the form of probabilistic feature distribution and feature size maps, in a standard anatomical space, and "intensity hints" selected by the user that allow for a skewed distribution of the feature intensity characteristics. The fuzzy affinity between pixels is modified to encapsulate this domain knowledge. The method was tested by using it to segment brain lesions in patients with multiple sclerosis, and the results compared to an established method for lesion outlining based on edge detection and contour following. With the fuzzy connections (FC) method, the user is required to identify each lesion with a mouse click, to provide a set of seed pixels. The algorithm then grows the features from the seeds to define the lesions as a set of objects with fuzzy connectedness above a preset threshold. The FC method gave improved interobserver reproducibility of lesion volumes, and the set of pixels determined to be lesion was more consistent compared to the contouring method. The operator interaction time required to evaluate one subject was reduced from an average of 111 min with contouring to 16 min with the FC method.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Fuzzy Logic*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Observer Variation
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • User-Computer Interface*