Extraction of Airways with Probabilistic State-space Models and Bayesian Smoothing

Raghavendra Selvan, Jens Petersen, Jesper H. Pedersen, Marleen de Bruijne

Segmenting tree structures is common in several image processing applications. In medical image analysis, reliable segmentations of airways, vessels, neurons and other tree structures can enable important clinical applications. We present a framework for tracking tree structures comprising of elongated branches using probabilistic state-space models and Bayesian smoothing. Unlike most existing methods that proceed with sequential tracking of branches, we present an exploratory method, that is less sensitive to local anomalies in the data due to acquisition noise and/or interfering structures. The evolution of individual branches is modelled using a process model and the observed data is incorporated into the update step of the Bayesian smoother using a measurement model that is based on a multi-scale blob detector. Bayesian smoothing is performed using the RTS (Rauch-Tung-Striebel) smoother, which provides Gaussian density estimates of branch states at each tracking step. We select likely branch seed points automatically based on the response of the blob detection and track from all such seed points using the RTS smoother. We use covariance of the marginal posterior density estimated for each branch to discriminate false positive and true positive branches. The method is evaluated on 3D chest CT scans to track airways. We show that the presented method results in additional branches compared to a baseline method based on region growing on probability images.

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