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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2016 Feb;63(2):449-58. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2015.2463711. Epub 2015 Aug 4.

Toward Quantitative Assessment of Rheumatoid Arthritis Using Volumetric Ultrasound.



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by inflammation within the joint space as well as erosion or destruction of the bone surface. We believe that volumetric (3-D) ultrasound imaging of the joints in conjunction with automated image-analysis tools for segmenting and quantifying the regions of interest can lead to improved RA assessment.


In this paper, we describe our proposed algorithms for segmenting 1) the 3 -D bone surface and 2) the 3-D joint capsule region. We improve and extend previous 2-D bone extraction methods to 3-D and make our algorithm more robust to the intensity loss due to surface normals facing away from incident acoustic beams. The extracted bone surfaces coupled with a joint-specific anatomical model are used to initialize a coarse localization of the joint capsule region. The joint capsule segmentation is refined iteratively utilizing a probabilistic speckle model.


We apply our methods on 51 volumes from 8 subjects, and validate segmentation results with expert annotations. We also provide the quantitative comparison of our bone detection with magnetic resonance imaging. These automated methods have achieved average sensitivity/precision rates of 94%/93% for bone surface detection, and 87%/83% for joint capsule segmentation. Segmentations of normal and inflamed joints are compared to demonstrate the potential of using proposed tools to assess RA pathology at the joint level.


The proposed image-analysis methods showed encouraging results as compared to expert annotations.


These computer-assisted tools can be used to help visualize 3-D anatomy in joints and help develop quantitative measurements toward RA assessment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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