Shape priors have been widely utilized in medical image segmentation to improve segmentation accuracy and robustness. A major way to encode such a prior shape model is to use a mesh representation, which is prone to causing self-intersection or mesh folding. Those problems require complex and expensive algorithms to mitigate. In this paper, we propose a novel shape prior directly embedded in the voxel grid space, based on gradient vector flows of a pre-segmentation. The flexible and powerful prior shape representation is ready to be extended to simultaneously segmenting multiple interacting objects with minimum separation distance constraint. The segmentation problem of multiple interacting objects with shape priors is formulated as a Markov Random Field problem, which seeks to optimize the label assignment (objects or background) for each voxel while keeping the label consistency between the neighboring voxels. The optimization problem can be efficiently solved with a single minimum s-t cut in an appropriately constructed graph. The proposed algorithm has been validated on two multi-object segmentation applications: the brain tissue segmentation in MRI images and the bladder/prostate segmentation in CT images. Both sets of experiments showed superior or competitive performance of the proposed method to the compared state-of-the-art methods.
Keywords: Gradient vector flows; Multi-object segmentation; Segmentation; Shape priors.
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