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Comput Med Imaging Graph. 2007 Mar;31(2):71-80. Epub 2007 Jan 9.

Automatic segmentation and 3D reconstruction of intravascular ultrasound images for a fast preliminar evaluation of vessel pathologies.

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Electronics Engineering Department, Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia, Spain.


Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging is used along with X-ray coronary angiography to detect vessel pathologies. Manual analysis of IVUS images is slow and time-consuming and it is not feasible for clinical purposes. A semi-automated method is proposed to generate 3D reconstructions from IVUS video sequences, so that a fast diagnose can be easily done, quantifying plaque length and severity as well as plaque volume of the vessels under study. The methodology described in this work has four steps: a pre-processing of IVUS images, a segmentation of media-adventitia contour, a detection of intima and plaque and a 3D reconstruction of the vessel. Preprocessing is intended to remove noise from the images without blurring the edges. Segmentation of media-adventitia contour is achieved using active contours (snakes). In particular, we use the gradient vector flow (GVF) as external force for the snakes. The detection of lumen border is obtained taking into account gray-level information of the inner part of the previously detected contours. A knowledge-based approach is used to determine which level of gray corresponds statistically to the different regions of interest: intima, plaque and lumen. The catheter region is automatically discarded. An estimate of plaque type is also given. Finally, 3D reconstruction of all detected regions is made. The suitability of this methodology has been verified for the analysis and visualization of plaque length, stenosis severity, automatic detection of the most problematic regions, calculus of plaque volumes and a preliminary estimation of plaque type obtaining for automatic measures of lumen and vessel area an average error smaller than 1mm(2) (equivalent aproximately to 10% of the average measure), for calculus of plaque and lumen volume errors smaller than 0.5mm(3) (equivalent approximately to 20% of the average measure) and for plaque type estimates a mismatch of less than 8% in the analysed frames.

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