Vessel Axis Tracking Using Topology Constrained Surface Evolution
An approach to three-dimensional vessel axis tracking based on surface evolution is presented. The main idea is to guide the evolution of the surface by analyzing its skeleton topology during evolution, and imposing shape constraints on the topology. For example, the intermediate topology can be processed such that it represents a single vessel segment, a bifurcation, or a more complex vascular topology. The evolving surface is then re-initialized with the newly found topology. Re-initialization is a crucial step since it creates probing behavior of the evolving front, encourages the segmentation process to extract the vascular structure of interest and reduces the risk on leaking of the curve into the background. The method was evaluated in two computed tomography angiography applications: (i) extracting the internal carotid arteries including the region in which they traverse through the skull base, which is challenging due to the proximity of bone structures and overlap in intensity values, and (ii) extracting the carotid bifurcations including many cases in which they are severely stenosed and contain calcifications. The vessel axis was found in 90% (18/20 internal carotids in ten patients) and 70% (14/20 carotid bifurcations in a different set of ten patients) of the cases.