Image processing algorithms for three-dimensional segmentation of the tumor mass in computed tomographic images of neuroblastoma
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AbstractTumor definition and diagnosis require the analysis of the spatial distribution and Hounsfield unit (HU) values of voxels in computed tomography (CT) images, coupled with a knowledge of normal anatomy. Segmentation of the tumor in neuroblastoma is complicated by the fact that the mass is almost always heterogeneous in nature; furthermore, viable tumor, necrosis, fibrosis, and normal tissue are often intermixed. This study has developed strategies to improve tumor segmentation. In this scheme, the normal structures expected in abdominal CT images are delineated and removed from further consideration; the remaining parts of the image volume are then examined for the tumor mass. Mathematical morphology, fuzzy connectivity, and other image processing tools are deployed for this purpose. Expert knowledge provided by the radiologist in the form of the expected structures and their shapes, HU values, and radiological characteristics are also incorporated into the segmentation algorithm. Segmentation and analysis of the tissue composition of the tumor can assist in quantitative assessment of the response to chemotherapy and in the planning of delayed surgery for resection of the tumor. The performance of the algorithm is evaluated using cases acquired from the Alberta Children's Hospital.
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