Vessel-guided airway tree segmentation: A voxel classification approach
Medical Image Analysis , Volume 14 - Issue 4 p. 527- 538
This paper presents a method for airway tree segmentation that uses a combination of a trained airway appearance model, vessel and airway orientation information, and region growing. We propose a voxel classification approach for the appearance model, which uses a classifier that is trained to differentiate between airway and non-airway voxels. This is in contrast to previous works that use either intensity alone or hand crafted models of airway appearance. We show that the appearance model can be trained with a set of easily acquired, incomplete, airway tree segmentations. A vessel orientation similarity measure is introduced, which indicates how similar the orientation of an airway candidate is to the orientation of the neighboring vessel. We use this vessel orientation similarity measure to overcome regions in the airway tree that have a low response from the appearance model. The proposed method is evaluated on 250 low dose computed tomography images from a lung cancer screening trial. Our experiments showed that applying the region growing algorithm on the airway appearance model produces more complete airway segmentations, leading to on average 20% longer trees, and 50% less leakage. When combining the airway appearance model with vessel orientation similarity, the improvement is even more significant (p<0.01) than only using the airway appearance model, with on average 7% increase in the total length of branches extracted correctly.