Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Accurate Segmentation of CT Pelvic Organs via Incremental Cascade Learning and Regression-based Deformable Models

Accurate segmentation of male pelvic organs from computed tomography (CT) images is important in image guided radiotherapy (IGRT) of prostate cancer. The efficacy of radiation treatment highly depends on the segmentation accuracy of planning and treatment CT images. Clinically manual delineation is still generally performed in most hospitals. However, it is time consuming and suffers large inter-operator variability due to the low tissue contrast of CT images. To reduce the manual efforts and improve the consistency of segmentation, it is desirable to develop an automatic method for rapid and accurate segmentation of pelvic organs from planning and treatment CT images. This dissertation marries machine learning and medical image analysis for addressing two fundamental yet challenging segmentation problems in image guided radiotherapy of prostate cancer. Planning-CT Segmentation. Deformable models are popular methods for planning-CT segmentation. However, they are well known to be sensitive to initialization and ineffective in segmenting organs with complex shapes. To address these limitations, this dissertation investigates a novel deformable model named regression-based deformable model (RDM). Instead of locally deforming the shape model, in RDM the deformation at each model point is explicitly estimated from local image appearance and used to guide deformable segmentation. As the estimated deformation can be long-distance and is spatially adaptive to each model point, RDM is insensitive to initialization and more flexible than conventional deformable models. These properties render it very suitable for CT pelvic organ segmentation, where initialization is difficult to get and organs may have complex shapes. Treatment-CT Segmentation. Most existing methods have two limitations when they are applied to treatment-CT segmentation. First, they have a limited accuracy because they overlook the availability of patient-specific data in the IGRT workflow. Second, they are time consuming and may take minutes or even longer for segmentation. To improve both accuracy and efficiency, this dissertation combines incremental learning with anatomical landmark detection for fast localization of the prostate in treatment CT images. Specifically, cascade classifiers are learned from a population to automatically detect several anatomical landmarks in the image. Based on these landmarks, the prostate is quickly localized by aligning and then fusing previous segmented prostate shapes of the same patient. To improve the performance of landmark detection, a novel learning scheme named "incremental learning with selective memory" is proposed to personalize the population-based cascade classifiers to the patient under treatment. Extensive experiments on a large dataset show that the proposed method achieves comparable accuracy to the state of the art methods while substantially reducing runtime from minutes to just 4 seconds.