Focal liver lesions segmentation and classification in nonenhanced T2-weighted MRI

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Abstract

Purpose

To automatically segment and classify focal liver lesions (FLLs) on nonenhanced T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans using a computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) algorithm.

Methods

71 FLLs (30 benign lesions, 19 hepatocellular carcinomas, and 22 metastases) on T2-weighted MRI scans were delineated by the proposed CAD scheme. The FLL segmentation procedure involved wavelet multiscale analysis to extract accurate edge information and mean intensity values for consecutive edges computed using horizontal and vertical analysis that were fed into the subsequent fuzzy C-means algorithm for final FLL border extraction. Texture information for each extracted lesion was derived using 42 first- and second-order textural features from grayscale value histogram, co-occurrence, and run-length matrices. Twelve morphological features were also extracted to capture any shape differentiation between classes. Feature selection was performed with stepwise multilinear regression analysis that led to a reduced feature subset. A multiclass Probabilistic Neural Network (PNN) classifier was then designed and used for lesion classification. PNN model evaluation was performed using the leave-one-out (LOO) method and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis.

Results

The mean overlap between the automatically segmented FLLs and the manual segmentations performed by radiologists was 0.91 ± 0.12. The highest classification accuracies in the PNN model for the benign, hepatocellular carcinoma, and metastatic FLLs were 94.1%, 91.4%, and 94.1%, respectively, with sensitivity/specificity values of 90%/97.3%, 89.5%/92.2%, and 90.9%/95.6% respectively. The overall classification accuracy for the proposed system was 90.1%.

Conclusions

Our diagnostic system using sophisticated FLL segmentation and classification algorithms is a powerful tool for routine clinical MRI-based liver evaluation and can be a supplement to contrast-enhanced MRI to prevent unnecessary invasive procedures.

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