3D automatic breast boundary detection

Breast screening with an ultrasound tomography scanner [1] involves immersion of the breast in the water. The breast is scanned along the coronal axis from the chest wall to the nipple region. To improve the visualization of the generated 3D image, it is desirable to remove the water background. To this end, the 3D boundary of the breast must be accurately estimated. We developed an algorithm based on active contours that automatically detects the boundary of a breast using a 3D coronal stack of ultrasound attenuation images obtained from an ultrasound tomography scanner. Our approach builds upon a method described in [2] which uses parametric active contours that are represented with exponential B-splines. The authors in [2] demonstrate that their active contour approach can approximate any blob-like objects with good accuracy, and can perfectly reproduce spheres and ellipsoids. The optimization process is remarkably fast and good approximation can be obtained using only a few control points. The technique is appealing in that the smoothness of the object boundary is implicitly taken into account. We made a number of modification to the original technique such as: 1)  mirroring of the input image stack around a chest wall; 2) adapting the region of interest; 3) making an iterative optimization algorithm that successively optimizes the boundary  etc. As a result our algorithm is fully automated, fast, and robust to artifacts that may arise from the ultrasound tomography reconstruction process.

Results

We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed technique using clinical data sets obtained from SoftVue scanner developed by Delphinus Medical Technologies.

Initial Boundary

Initial Boundary

Final Boundary

Final Boundary

References

[1] Duric, N., Littrup, P., Schmidt, S., Li, C., Roy, O., Bey-Knight, L., Janer, R., Kunz, D., Chen, X., Goll, J., Wallen, A., Zafar, F., Allada, V., West, E., Jovanovic, I., Li, K., and Greenway, W., Breast imaging with the SoftVue imaging system: First results,” SPIE Medical Imaging 8675 (Mar. 2013).[2] Delgado-Gonzalo, R.; Chenouard, N.; Unser, M., “Spline-Based Deforming Ellipsoids for Interactive 3D Bioimage Segmentation,” Image Processing, IEEE Transactions on , vol.22, no.10, pp.3926,3940, Oct. 2013[3] Balic, I., Goyal, P., Roy, O., Duric, N, “Breast Boundary Detection With Active Contours” SPIE Medical Imaging (Mar. 2014).

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