Optimizing the automatic segmentation of the left ventricle in magnetic resonance images

E. Angelié, P.J.H. Koning, de, M.G. Danilouchkine, H.C. Assen, van, G. Koning, R.J. Geest, van der, J.H.C. Reiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Automatic segmentation of the left ventricular (LV) myocardial borders in cardiovascular MR (CMR) images allows a significant speed-up of the procedure of quantifying LV function, and improves its reproducibility. The automated boundary delineation is usually based on a set of parameters that define the algorithms. Since the automatic segmentation algorithms are usually sensitive to the image quality and frequently depend heavily on the acquisition protocol, optimizing the parameters of the algorithm for such different protocols may be necessary to obtain optimal results. In other words, using a default set of parameters may be far from optimal for different scanners or protocols. For the MASS-software, for example, this means that a total of 14 parameters need to be optimized. This optimization is a difficult and labor-intensive process. To be able to more consistently and rapidly tune the parameters, an automated optimization system would be extremely desirable. In this paper we propose such an approach, which is based on genetic algorithms (GAs). The GA is an unsupervised iterative tool that generates new sets of parameters and converges toward an optimal set. We implemented and compared two different types of the genetic algorithms: a simple GA (SGA) and a steady state GA (2SGA). The difference between these two algorithms lies in the characteristics of the generated populations: "nonoverlapping populations" and "overlapping populations," respectively "nonoverlapping" population means that the two populations are disjoint, and "overlapping" means that the best parameters found in the previous generation are included in the present population. The performance of both algorithms was evaluated on twenty routinely obtained short-axis examinations (eleven examinations acquired with a steady-state free precession pulse sequence, and nine examinations with a gradient echo pulse sequence). The optimal parameters obtained with the GAs were used for the LV myocardial border delineation. Finally, the automatically outlined contours were compared to the gold standard—manually drawn contours by experts. The result of the comparison was expressed as a degree of similarity after a processing time of less than 72 h to a 59.5% of degree of similarity for SGA and a 66.7% of degree of similarity for 2SGA. In conclusion, genetic algorithms are very suitable to automatically tune the parameters of a border detection algorithm. Based on our data, the 2SGA was more suitable than the SGA method. This approach can be generalized to other optimization problems in medical image processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-375
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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