Automatic prostate segmentation from MR images is an important task in various clinical applications such as prostate cancer staging and MR-guided radiotherapy planning. However, the large appearance and shape variations of the prostate in MR images make the segmentation problem difficult to solve. Traditional Active Shape/Appearance Model (ASM/AAM) has limited accuracy on this problem, since its basic assumption, i.e., both shape and appearance of the targeted organ follow Gaussian distributions, is invalid in prostate MR images. To this end, the authors propose a sparse dictionary learning method to model the image appearance in a nonparametric fashion and further integrate the appearance model into a deformable segmentation framework for prostate MR segmentation.Methods:
To drive the deformable model for prostate segmentation, the authors propose nonparametric appearance and shape models. The nonparametric appearance model is based on a novel dictionary learning method, namely distributed discriminative dictionary (DDD) learning, which is able to capture fine distinctions in image appearance. To increase the differential power of traditional dictionary-based classification methods, the authors' DDD learning approach takes three strategies. First, two dictionaries for prostate and nonprostate tissues are built, respectively, using the discriminative features obtained from minimum redundancy maximum relevance feature selection. Second, linear discriminant analysis is employed as a linear classifier to boost the optimal separation between prostate and nonprostate tissues, based on the representation residuals from sparse representation. Third, to enhance the robustness of the authors' classification method, multiple local dictionaries are learned for local regions along the prostate boundary (each with small appearance variations), instead of learning one global classifier for the entire prostate. These discriminative dictionaries are located on different patches of the prostate surface and trained to adaptively capture the appearance in different prostate zones, thus achieving better local tissue differentiation. For each local region, multiple classifiers are trained based on the randomly selected samples and finally assembled by a specific fusion method. In addition to this nonparametric appearance model, a prostate shape model is learned from the shape statistics using a novel approach, sparse shape composition, which can model nonGaussian distributions of shape variation and regularize the 3D mesh deformation by constraining it within the observed shape subspace.Results:
The proposed method has been evaluated on two datasets consisting of T2-weighted MR prostate images. For the first (internal) dataset, the classification effectiveness of the authors' improved dictionary learning has been validated by comparing it with three other variants of traditional dictionary learning methods. The experimental results show that the authors' method yields a Dice Ratio of 89.1% compared to the manual segmentation, which is more accurate than the three state-of-the-art MR prostate segmentation methods under comparison. For the second dataset, the MICCAI 2012 challenge dataset, the authors' proposed method yields a Dice Ratio of 87.4%, which also achieves better segmentation accuracy than other methods under comparison.Conclusions:
A new magnetic resonance image prostate segmentation method is proposed based on the combination of deformable model and dictionary learning methods, which achieves more accurate segmentation performance on prostate T2 MR images.