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Central and Cortical Gray Mater Segmentation of Magnetic Resonance Images of the Fetal Brain
Title of the conference
ISMRM-ESMRMB Joint Annual Meeting
Stockholm, Sweden, Majy, 1-7, 2010
Motivation. The study of human brain development in itsearly stage is today possible thanks to in vivo fetalmagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. Aquantitative analysis of fetal cortical surfacerepresents a new approach which can be used as a markerof the cerebral maturation (as gyration) and also forstudying central nervous system pathologies . However,this quantitative approach is a major challenge forseveral reasons. First, movement of the fetus inside theamniotic cavity requires very fast MRI sequences tominimize motion artifacts, resulting in a poor spatialresolution and/or lower SNR. Second, due to the ongoingmyelination and cortical maturation, the appearance ofthe developing brain differs very much from thehomogenous tissue types found in adults. Third, due tolow resolution, fetal MR images considerably suffer ofpartial volume (PV) effect, sometimes in large areas.Today extensive efforts are made to deal with thereconstruction of high resolution 3D fetal volumes[2,3,4] to cope with intra-volume motion and low SNR.However, few studies exist related to the automatedsegmentation of MR fetal imaging.  and  work on thesegmentation of specific areas of the fetal brain such asposterior fossa, brainstem or germinal matrix. Firstattempt for automated brain tissue segmentation has beenpresented in  and in our previous work . Bothmethods apply the Expectation-Maximization Markov RandomField (EM-MRF) framework but contrary to  we do notneed from any anatomical atlas prior. Data set &Methods. Prenatal MR imaging was performed with a 1-Tsystem (GE Medical Systems, Milwaukee) using single shotfast spin echo (ssFSE) sequences (TR 7000 ms, TE 180 ms,FOV 40 x 40 cm, slice thickness 5.4mm, in plane spatialresolution 1.09mm). Each fetus has 6 axial volumes(around 15 slices per volume), each of them acquired inabout 1 min. Each volume is shifted by 1 mm with respectto the previous one. Gestational age (GA) ranges from 29to 32 weeks. Mother is under sedation. Each volume ismanually segmented to extract fetal brain fromsurrounding maternal tissues. Then, in-homogeneityintensity correction is performed using  and linearintensity normalization is performed to have intensityvalues that range from 0 to 255. Note that due tointra-tissue variability of developing brain someintensity variability still remains. For each fetus, ahigh spatial resolution image of isotropic voxel size of1.09 mm is created applying  and using B-splines forthe scattered data interpolation  (see Fig. 1). Then,basal ganglia (BS) segmentation is performed on thissuper reconstructed volume. Active contour framework witha Level Set (LS) implementation is used. Our LS follows aslightly different formulation from well-known Chan-Vese formulation. In our case, the LS evolves forcing themean of the inside of the curve to be the mean intensityof basal ganglia. Moreover, we add local spatial priorthrough a probabilistic map created by fitting anellipsoid onto the basal ganglia region. Some userinteraction is needed to set the mean intensity of BG(green dots in Fig. 2) and the initial fitting points forthe probabilistic prior map (blue points in Fig. 2). Oncebasal ganglia are removed from the image, brain tissuesegmentation is performed as described in . Results.The case study presented here has 29 weeks of GA. Thehigh resolution reconstructed volume is presented in Fig.1. The steps of BG segmentation are shown in Fig. 2.Overlap in comparison with manual segmentation isquantified by the Dice similarity index (DSI) equal to0.829 (values above 0.7 are considered a very goodagreement). Such BG segmentation has been applied on 3other subjects ranging for 29 to 32 GA and the DSI hasbeen of 0.856, 0.794 and 0.785. Our segmentation of theinner (red and blue contours) and outer cortical surface(green contour) is presented in Fig. 3. Finally, torefine the results we include our WM segmentation in theFreesurfer software  and some manual corrections toobtain Fig.4. Discussion. Precise cortical surfaceextraction of fetal brain is needed for quantitativestudies of early human brain development. Our workcombines the well known statistical classificationframework with the active contour segmentation forcentral gray mater extraction. A main advantage of thepresented procedure for fetal brain surface extraction isthat we do not include any spatial prior coming fromanatomical atlases. The results presented here arepreliminary but promising. Our efforts are now in testingsuch approach on a wider range of gestational ages thatwe will include in the final version of this work andstudying as well its generalization to different scannersand different type of MRI sequences. References. Guibaud, Prenatal Diagnosis 29(4) (2009).  Rousseau,Acad. Rad. 13(9), 2006,  Jiang, IEEE TMI 2007. Warfield IADB, MICCAI 2009.  Claude, IEEE Trans. Bio.Eng. 51(4) (2004).  Habas, MICCAI (Pt. 1) 2008. Bertelsen, ISMRM 2009  Bach Cuadra, IADB, MICCAI 2009. Styner, IEEE TMI 19(39 (2000).  Lee, IEEE Trans.Visual. And Comp. Graph. 3(3), 1997,  Chan, IEEETrans. Img. Proc, 10(2), 2001  Freesurfer,http://surfer.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu.
Statistical classification, Brain tissue segmentation, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Fetal Imaging
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