The aim of this study was to introduce and evaluate a contour segmentation method to extract the interfaces of the intima–media complex in carotid B-mode ultrasound images. The method was applied to assess the temporal variation of intima–media thickness during the cardiac cycle. The main methodological contribution of the proposed approach is the introduction of an augmented dimension to process 2-D images in a 3-D space. The third dimension, which is added to the two spatial dimensions of the image, corresponds to the tentative local thickness of the intima–media complex. The method is based on a dynamic programming scheme that runs in a 3-D space generated with a shape-adapted filter bank. The optimal solution corresponds to a single medial axis representation that fully describes the two anatomical interfaces of the arterial wall. The method is fully automatic and does not require any input from the user. The method was trained on 60 subjects and validated on 184 other subjects from six different cohorts and four different medical centers. The arterial wall was successfully segmented in all analyzed images (average pixel size = 57 ± 20 mm), with average segmentation errors of 47 ± 70 mm for the lumen–intima interface, 55 ± 68 mm for the media–adventitia interface and 66 ± 90 mm for the intima–media thickness. The amplitude of the temporal variations in IMT during the cardiac cycle was significantly higher in the diseased population than in healthy volunteers (106 ± 48 vs. 86 ± 34 mm, p = 0.001). The introduced framework is a promising approach to investigate an emerging functional parameter of the arterial wall by assessing the cyclic compression–decompression pattern of the tissues.

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Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology
Department of Radiology

Zahnd, G., Kapellas, K. (Kostas), van Hattem, M. (Martijn), Nouwens- van Dijk, A., Sérusclat, A., Moulin, P. (Philippe), … Orkisz, M. (2017). A Fully-Automatic Method to Segment the Carotid Artery Layers in Ultrasound Imaging. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology, 43(1), 239–257. doi:10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2016.08.016