A competitive strategy for atrial and aortic tract segmentation based on deformable models

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Abstract

Multiple strategies have previously been described for atrial region (i.e. atrial bodies and aortic tract) segmentation. Although these techniques have proven their accuracy, inadequate results in the mid atrial walls are common, restricting their application for specific cardiac interventions. In this work, we introduce a novel competitive strategy to perform atrial region segmentation with correct delineation of the thin mid walls, and integrated it into the B-spline Explicit Active Surfaces framework. A double-stage segmentation process is used, which starts with a fast contour growing followed by a refinement stage with local descriptors. Independent functions are used to define each region, being afterward combined to compete for the optimal boundary. The competition locally constrains the surface evolution, prevents overlaps and allows refinement to the walls. Three different scenarios were used to demonstrate the advantages of the proposed approach, through the evaluation of its segmentation accuracy, and its performance for heterogeneous mid walls. Both computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging datasets were used, presenting results similar to the state-of-the-art methods for both atria and aorta. The competitive strategy showed its superior performance with statistically significant differences against the traditional free-evolution approach in cases with bad image quality or missed atrial/aortic walls. Moreover, only the competitive approach was able to accurately segment the atrial/aortic wall. Overall, the proposed strategy showed to be suitable for atrial region segmentation with a correct segmentation of the mid thin walls, demonstrating its added value with respect to the traditional techniques.

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