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Med Phys. 1993 Jul-Aug;20(4):1033-48.

Review of MR image segmentation techniques using pattern recognition.

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Division of Computer Science, University of West Florida, Pensacola 32514.


This paper has reviewed, with somewhat variable coverage, the nine MR image segmentation techniques itemized in Table II. A wide array of approaches have been discussed; each has its merits and drawbacks. We have also given pointers to other approaches not discussed in depth in this review. The methods reviewed fall roughly into four model groups: c-means, maximum likelihood, neural networks, and k-nearest neighbor rules. Both supervised and unsupervised schemes require human intervention to obtain clinically useful results in MR segmentation. Unsupervised techniques require somewhat less interaction on a per patient/image basis. Maximum likelihood techniques have had some success, but are very susceptible to the choice of training region, which may need to be chosen slice by slice for even one patient. Generally, techniques that must assume an underlying statistical distribution of the data (such as LML and UML) do not appear promising, since tissue regions of interest do not usually obey the distributional tendencies of probability density functions. The most promising supervised techniques reviewed seem to be FF/NN methods that allow hidden layers to be configured as examples are presented to the system. An example of a self-configuring network, FF/CC, was also discussed. The relatively simple k-nearest neighbor rule algorithms (hard and fuzzy) have also shown promise in the supervised category. Unsupervised techniques based upon fuzzy c-means clustering algorithms have also shown great promise in MR image segmentation. Several unsupervised connectionist techniques have recently been experimented with on MR images of the brain and have provided promising initial results. A pixel-intensity-based edge detection algorithm has recently been used to provide promising segmentations of the brain. This is also an unsupervised technique, older versions of which have been susceptible to oversegmenting the image because of the lack of clear boundaries between tissue types or finding uninteresting boundaries between slightly different types of the same tissue. To conclude, we offer some remarks about improving MR segmentation techniques. The better unsupervised techniques are too slow. Improving speed via parallelization and optimization will improve their competitiveness with, e.g., the k-nn rule, which is the fastest technique covered in this review. Another area for development is dynamic cluster validity. Unsupervised methods need better ways to specify and adjust c, the number of tissue classes found by the algorithm. Initialization is a third important area of research. Many of the schemes listed in Table II are sensitive to good initialization, both in terms of the parameters of the design, as well as operator selection of training data.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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