Purpose: Automated segmentation is required for radiotherapy treatment planning, and multi-atlas methods are frequently used for this purpose. The combination of multiple intermediate results from multi-atlas segmentation into a single segmentation map can be achieved by label fusion. A method that includes expert knowledge in the label fusion phase of multi-atlas-based segmentation was developed. The method was tested by application to prostate segmentation, and the accuracy was compared to standard techniques. Methods: The selective and iterative method for performance level estimation (SIMPLE) algorithm for label fusion was modified with a weight map given by an expert that indicates the importance of each region in the evaluation of segmentation results. Voxel-based weights specified by an expert when performing the label fusion step in atlas-based segmentation were introduced into the modified SIMPLE algorithm. These weights incorporate expert knowledge on accuracy requirements in different regions of a segmentation. Using this knowledge, segmentation accuracy in regions known to be important can be improved by sacrificing segmentation accuracy in less important regions. Contextual information such as the presence of vulnerable tissue is then used in the segmentation process. This method using weight maps to fine-tune the result of multi-atlas-based segmentation was tested using a set of 146 atlas images consisting of an MR image of the lower abdomen and a prostate segmentation. Each image served as a target in a set of leave-one-out experiments. These experiments were repeated for a weight map derived from the clinical practice in our hospital. Results: The segmentation accuracy increased 6 % in regions that border vulnerable tissue using expert-specified voxel-based weight maps. This was achieved at the cost of a 4 % decrease in accuracy in less clinically relevant regions. Conclusion: The inclusion of expert knowledge in a multi-atlas-based segmentation procedure was shown to be feasible for prostate segmentation. This method allows an expert to ensure that automatic segmentation is most accurate in critical regions. This improved local accuracy can increase the practical value of automatic segmentation.

Classifier combination, Label fusion, Multi-atlas-based segmentation, SIMPLE
dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11548-013-0836-4, hdl.handle.net/1765/87249
International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Langerak, T, van der Heide, U.A, Kotte, A.N.T.J, Berendsen, F.F, Van Vulpen, M, & Pluim, J.P.W. (2013). Expert-driven label fusion in multi-atlas-based segmentation of the prostate using weighted atlases. International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery, 8(6), 929–936. doi:10.1007/s11548-013-0836-4