The latest revision of multiple sclerosis diagnosis guidelines emphasizes the role of oligoclonal band detection in isoelectric focusing images of cerebrospinal fluid. Recent studies suggest tears as a promising noninvasive alternative to cerebrospinal fluid. We are developing the first automatic method for isoelectric focusing image analysis and oligoclonal band detection in cerebrospinal fluid and tear samples. The automatic analysis would provide an accurate, fast analysis and would reduce the expert-dependent variability and errors of the current visual analysis. In this paper, we describe a new effective model for the fully automated segmentation of highly distorted lanes in isoelectric focusing images. This approach is a new formulation of the classic parametric active contour problem, in which an open active contour is constrained to move from the top to the bottom of the image, and the x-axis coordinate is expressed as a function of the y-axis coordinate. The left and right edges of the lane evolved together in a ribbon-like shape so that the full width of the lane was captured reliably. The segmentation algorithm was implemented using a multiresolution approach in which the scale factor and the active contour control points were progressively increased. The lane segmentation algorithm was tested on a database of 51 isoelectric focusing images containing 419 analyzable lanes. The new model gave robust results for highly curved lanes, weak edges, and low-contrast lanes. A total of 98.8% of the lanes were perfectly segmented, and the remaining 1.2% had only minor errors. The computation time (1 s per membrane) is negligible. This method precisely defines the region of interest in each lane and thus is a major step toward the first fully automatic tool for oligoclonal band detection in isoelectric focusing images. Graphical abstract.
Keywords: Automatic lane segmentation; Electrophoresis; Multiple sclerosis; Open active contours.