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Neuroimage. 2004 Apr;21(4):1428-42.

Evaluation of atlas selection strategies for atlas-based image segmentation with application to confocal microscopy images of bee brains.

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  • 1Image Guidance Laboratories, Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5327, USA. rohlfing@stanford.edu

Abstract

This paper evaluates strategies for atlas selection in atlas-based segmentation of three-dimensional biomedical images. Segmentation by intensity-based nonrigid registration to atlas images is applied to confocal microscopy images acquired from the brains of 20 bees. This paper evaluates and compares four different approaches for atlas image selection: registration to an individual atlas image (IND), registration to an average-shape atlas image (AVG), registration to the most similar image from a database of individual atlas images (SIM), and registration to all images from a database of individual atlas images with subsequent multi-classifier decision fusion (MUL). The MUL strategy is a novel application of multi-classifier techniques, which are common in pattern recognition, to atlas-based segmentation. For each atlas selection strategy, the segmentation performance of the algorithm was quantified by the similarity index (SI) between the automatic segmentation result and a manually generated gold standard. The best segmentation accuracy was achieved using the MUL paradigm, which resulted in a mean similarity index value between manual and automatic segmentation of 0.86 (AVG, 0.84; SIM, 0.82; IND, 0.81). The superiority of the MUL strategy over the other three methods is statistically significant (two-sided paired t test, P < 0.001). Both the MUL and AVG strategies performed better than the best possible SIM and IND strategies with optimal a posteriori atlas selection (mean similarity index for optimal SIM, 0.83; for optimal IND, 0.81). Our findings show that atlas selection is an important issue in atlas-based segmentation and that, in particular, multi-classifier techniques can substantially increase the segmentation accuracy.

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