A Computer-Aided Method to Expedite the Evaluation of Prognosis for Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

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This study presented a fully-automated computer-aided method (scheme) to detect metaphase chromosomes depicted on microscopic digital images, count the total number of chromosomes in each metaphase cell, compute the DNA index, and correlate the results to the prognosis of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The computer scheme first uses image filtering, threshold, and labeling algorithms to segment and count the number of the suspicious “chromosome,” and then computes a feature vector for each “detected chromosome.” Based on these features, a knowledge-based classifier is used to eliminate those “non-chromosome” objects (i.e., inter-phase cells, stain debris, and other kinds of background noises). Due to the possible overlap of the chromosomes, a classification criterion was used to identify the overlapped chromosomes and adjust the initially counted number of the total chromosomes in each image. In this preliminary study with 60 testing images (depicting metaphase chromosome cells) acquired from three pediatric patients, the computer scheme generated results matched with the diagnostic results provided by the clinical cytogeneticists. The results demonstrated the feasibility or potential of using a computerized method to replace the tedious and the reader-dependent diagnostic methods commonly used in genetic laboratories to date.

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