Automated measurement of fetal head circumference using 2D ultrasound images

PLoS One. 2018 Aug 23;13(8):e0200412. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200412. eCollection 2018.


In this paper we present a computer aided detection (CAD) system for automated measurement of the fetal head circumference (HC) in 2D ultrasound images for all trimesters of the pregnancy. The HC can be used to estimate the gestational age and monitor growth of the fetus. Automated HC assessment could be valuable in developing countries, where there is a severe shortage of trained sonographers. The CAD system consists of two steps: First, Haar-like features were computed from the ultrasound images to train a random forest classifier to locate the fetal skull. Secondly, the HC was extracted using Hough transform, dynamic programming and an ellipse fit. The CAD system was trained on 999 images and validated on an independent test set of 335 images from all trimesters. The test set was manually annotated by an experienced sonographer and a medical researcher. The reference gestational age (GA) was estimated using the crown-rump length measurement (CRL). The mean difference between the reference GA and the GA estimated by the experienced sonographer was 0.8 ± 2.6, -0.0 ± 4.6 and 1.9 ± 11.0 days for the first, second and third trimester, respectively. The mean difference between the reference GA and the GA estimated by the medical researcher was 1.6 ± 2.7, 2.0 ± 4.8 and 3.9 ± 13.7 days. The mean difference between the reference GA and the GA estimated by the CAD system was 0.6 ± 4.3, 0.4 ± 4.7 and 2.5 ± 12.4 days. The results show that the CAD system performs comparable to an experienced sonographer. The presented system shows similar or superior results compared to systems published in literature. This is the first automated system for HC assessment evaluated on a large test set which contained data of all trimesters of the pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Automation
  • Female
  • Fetal Development*
  • Fetus / anatomy & histology*
  • Fetus / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetus / embryology
  • Gestational Age
  • Head / anatomy & histology*
  • Head / diagnostic imaging
  • Head / embryology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods*

Grant support

This research was partially funded by the Life Sciences & Health for Development Fund (LSH14ET04), The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.