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Med Image Anal. 2009 Feb;13(1):49-61. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Jun 14.

A non-parametric vessel detection method for complex vascular structures.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8043, USA.


Modern medical imaging techniques enable the acquisition of in vivo high resolution images of the vascular system. Most common methods for the detection of vessels in these images, such as multiscale Hessian-based operators and matched filters, rely on the assumption that at each voxel there is a single cylinder. Such an assumption is clearly violated at the multitude of branching points that are easily observed in all, but the most focused vascular image studies. In this paper, we propose a novel method for detecting vessels in medical images that relaxes this single cylinder assumption. We directly exploit local neighborhood intensities and extract characteristics of the local intensity profile (in a spherical polar coordinate system) which we term as the polar neighborhood intensity profile. We present a new method to capture the common properties shared by polar neighborhood intensity profiles for all the types of vascular points belonging to the vascular system. The new method enables us to detect vessels even near complex extreme points, including branching points. Our method demonstrates improved performance over standard methods on both 2D synthetic images and 3D animal and clinical vascular images, particularly close to vessel branching regions.

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