Robust spatial fuzzy GMM based MRI segmentation and carotid artery plaque detection in ultrasound images.


Department of Computer Science, Air University Sector E-9, PAF Complex, Islamabad, Pakistan. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : In medical image analysis for disease diagnosis, segmentation is one of the challenging tasks. Owing to the inherited degradations in MRI improper segments are produced. Segmentation process is an important step in brain tissue analysis. Moreover, an early detection of plaque in carotid artery using ultrasound images may prevent serious brain strokes. Unfortunately, low quality and noisy ultrasound images are still challenges for accurate segmentation. The objective of this research is to develop a robust segmentation approach for medical images such as brain MRI and carotid artery ultrasound images.
METHODS : In this paper, a novel approach is proposed to address the segmentation challenges of medical images. The proposed approach employed fuzzy intelligence and Gaussian mixture model (GMM). It comprises two phases; firstly, incorporating spatial fuzzy c-means in GMM by exploiting statistical, texture, and wavelet image features. During model development, GMM parameters are estimated in presence of noise by EM algorithm iteratively. Utilizing these parameters, brain MRI images are segmented. In next phase, developed approach is applied to solve a real problem of carotid artery plaque detection using ultrasound images. The dataset of real patients annotated by radiologists has been obtained from Radiology Department, Shifa International Hospital Islamabad, Pakistan. For this, intima-media-thickness values are computed from the proposed segmentation followed by support vector machines for plaque classification (normal/abnormal).
RESULTS : The obtained segmentation has been evaluated on standard brain MRI dataset and offers high segmentation accuracy of 99.2%. The proposed approach outperforms in term of segmentation performance range of 3-9% as compared to the state of the art approaches on brain MRI. Furthermore, the proposed approach shows robustness to various levels of Gaussian and Rician image noises. On carotid artery dataset, we have obtained high plaque detection rate in terms of accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and F-score values of 98.8%, 99.3%, 98.0%, and 97.5% respectively.
CONCLUSIONS : The proposed approach segments both modalities with high precision and shows robustness at Gaussian and Rician noise levels. Results for brain MRI and ultrasound images indicate its effectiveness and can be used as second opinion in addition to the radiologists. The developed approach is straightforward, efficient, and reproducible. It may benefit to improve the clinical evaluation of the disease in both asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals.


Carotid Plaque,Expectation maximization,GMM,SVM,Soft clustering,