Localization and Segmentation of 3D Intervertebral Discs in MR Images by Data Driven Estimation

IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2015 Aug;34(8):1719-29. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2015.2403285. Epub 2015 Feb 12.


This paper addresses the problem of fully-automatic localization and segmentation of 3D intervertebral discs (IVDs) from MR images. Our method contains two steps, where we first localize the center of each IVD, and then segment IVDs by classifying image pixels around each disc center as foreground (disc) or background. The disc localization is done by estimating the image displacements from a set of randomly sampled 3D image patches to the disc center. The image displacements are estimated by jointly optimizing the training and test displacement values in a data-driven way, where we take into consideration both the training data and the geometric constraint on the test image. After the disc centers are localized, we segment the discs by classifying image pixels around disc centers as background or foreground. The classification is done in a similar data-driven approach as we used for localization, but in this segmentation case we are aiming to estimate the foreground/background probability of each pixel instead of the image displacements. In addition, an extra neighborhood smooth constraint is introduced to enforce the local smoothness of the label field. Our method is validated on 3D T2-weighted turbo spin echo MR images of 35 patients from two different studies. Experiments show that compared to state of the art, our method achieves better or comparable results. Specifically, we achieve for localization a mean error of 1.6-2.0 mm, and for segmentation a mean Dice metric of 85%-88% and a mean surface distance of 1.3-1.4 mm.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Intervertebral Disc / anatomy & histology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Spine / anatomy & histology