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Comput Aided Surg. 2001;6(3):131-42.

Fully automatic anatomical, pathological, and functional segmentation from CT scans for hepatic surgery.

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IRCAD, Strasbourg, France.



To improve the planning of hepatic surgery, we have developed a fully automatic anatomical, pathological, and functional segmentation of the liver derived from a spiral CT scan.


From a 2 mm-thick enhanced spiral CT scan, the first stage automatically delineates skin, bones, lungs, kidneys, and spleen by combining the use of thresholding, mathematical morphology, and distance maps. Next, a reference 3D model is immersed in the image and automatically deformed to the liver contours. Then an automatic Gaussian fitting on the imaging histogram estimates the intensities of parenchyma, vessels, and lesions. This first result is next improved through an original topological and geometrical analysis, providing an automatic delineation of lesions and veins. Finally, a topological and geometrical analysis based on medical knowledge provides hepatic functional information that is invisible in medical imaging: portal vein labeling and hepatic anatomical segmentation according to the Couinaud classification.


Clinical validation performed on more than 30 patients shows that delineation of anatomical structures by this method is often more sensitive and more specific than manual delineation by a radiologist.


This study describes the methodology used to create the automatic segmentation of the liver with delineation of important anatomical, pathological, and functional structures from a routine CT scan. Using the methods proposed in this study, we have confirmed the accuracy and utility of the creation of a 3D liver model compared with the conventional reading of the CT scan by a radiologist. This work may allow improved preoperative planning of hepatic surgery by more precisely delineating liver pathology and its relationship to normal hepatic structures. In the future, this data may be integrated with computer-assisted surgery and thus represents a first step towards the development of an augmented-reality surgical system.

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