Segmentation of the heart muscle in 3-D pediatric echocardiographic images

M. Nillesen, R. Lopata, I. Gerrits, L. Kapusta, H. Huisman, J. Thijssen and C. de Korte

Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 2007;33(9):1453-1462.

DOI PMID Cited by ~41 Download

This study aimed to show segmentation of the heart muscle in pediatric echocardiographic images as a preprocessing step for tissue analysis. Transthoracic image sequences (2-D and 3-D volume data, both derived in radiofrequency format, directly after beam forming) were registered in real time from four healthy children over three heart cycles. Three preprocessing methods, based on adaptive filtering, were used to reduce the speckle noise for optimizing the distinction between blood and myocardium, while preserving the sharpness of edges between anatomical structures. The filtering kernel size was linked to the local speckle size and the speckle noise characteristics were considered to define the optimal filter in one of the methods. The filtered 2-D images were thresholded automatically as a first step of segmentation of the endocardial wall. The final segmentation step was achieved by applying a deformable contour algorithm. This segmentation of each 2-D image of the 3-D+time (i.e., 4-D) datasets was related to that of the neighboring images in both time and space. By thus incorporating spatial and temporal information of 3-D ultrasound image sequences, an automated method using image statistics was developed to perform 3-D segmentation of the heart muscle.