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Automatic Segmentation Methods for Various CT Images Using

Morphology Operation and Statistical Technique

Myung-Eun Lee', Soo-Hyung Kim', Sun-Worl Kim2 and Sung-Ryul Ohl
'Department of Computer Science, Chonnam National University, Korea,

2Department ofStatistics, Chonnam National University, Korea

(melee, shkim)},,

In this paper, we present an automatic
segmentation method for medical image based on the
statistical technique. Here we use the morphological
operations to determine automatically the number of
clusters or objects composing a given image without
any prior knowledge and adopt the Gaussian mixture
model to mode an image statistically. Next, the
Deterministic Annealing Expectation Maximization
algorithm is employed to estimate the parameters of
the GMM for the clustering algorithm. We apply the
statistical technique for automatic segmentation of
input CT image. The experimental results show that
our method can segment exactly various CT images.

1. Introduction

In this paper, we use the morphological operations

automatically the number of clusters

without any prior knowledge of an image and adopt
the GMM to characterize the data in the cluster
statistically. Especially, the DAEM algorithm is chosen
to estimate the parameters of the GMM and we
compute the posterior probabilities for each pixel using
the estimated GMM. Finally, we segment the given
image using a manner such as assigning each pixel into
the cluster having the highest value of posterior
to determine

Medical imaging is perforrned in various modalities,

such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed
tomography (CT), ultrasound, etc. Several automated
methods have been developed to process the acquired
images and identify features of interest[l][2]. Image
segmentation is one of the most important steps in the
analysis of the preprocessed patient image data, which
can help diagnosis, treatment planning as well as
treatment delivery. It is the process of labeling each
pixel in a medical image dataset to indicate its tissue

2. Segmentation Method for Medical


type or anatomical structure.

The input to a segmentation procedure is grayscale

digital medical imagery, for example, such as the
results of a CT scan image. The desired output of its
process contains the labels that classify the input
grayscale pixels into one of regions or objects. Many
of the existing segmentation techniques generally use
information of intensity that describes the gray level

1-4244-1491-1/07/$25.00 (C2007 IEEE

appearance of individual structures in the medical

image. Given an image, the gray values are obtained
from each pixel and mapped into domain of histogram
to represent their intensities. In this case, these highest
densities of gray values represent clusters centered on
the modes of each component in the finite mixture
model. The widely often used assumption in modeling
by using a finite mixture of distribution is that the
number of components or clusters is known a priori
and the individual components obey normal
distributions. However, we cannot recognize the
number of clusters composing an observed image
before analyzing its image. So, we need the method
that can automatically estimate the number of mixture
components and also we need an estimation method
for parameters in GMM.

2.1. Automatic Determination

Component Numbers



To consider the statistical modeling for an observed

medical image, we first construct histogram of pixels


consisting of a medical image and seek to explicit

image structures that have been dilated.
peaks in the histogram. This relies on the fact that the
Figure I shows the smoothed histogram of a liver
intensity of objects in the image give rise to make
and lung CT images using the opening and closing by
peaks in the histogram. The main peaks of the
histogram are considered as the centroids of each
reconstruction. We can note that the original noisy
cluster of pixels representing dominant intensity and
histogram has been smoothed successfully by yielding
correspond to their regional maxima
a piece-wise constant type histogram which can reflect
[3]. The number and position of main peakcs are
important features to segment the observed image
the cluster components precisely.
statistically. However, we can't have any information
about them without a priori knowledge. So we may __
need the method that can detect the number and
position of each peak using a morphological operation
of the image [4].
First, we have constructed a histogram of gray
values obtained from a given CT image. Here, since an
original histogram of the image may have a large

nbeir regpsiional



remove an

histogram to

mainest gar

need to




unnecessarily number of
maxima from image histogram while preserving the
most relevant ones. The method of smoothing of the

(a) Original histogram
[left: Liver CT image, right: Lung CT image]

histogram can be generally conducted by means of the

morphological opening and closing by reconstruction.
First, we have employed the opening by
reconstruction to smooth the histogram as follows. For
a given histogram f generated from an observed
image, the opening by reconstruction of f by a
structuring element b is defined by the following
iterative procedure[5].

(1) Obtain the marker histogram fObby eroding

a histogram with a structuring element b.
(2) Initialize h, to be the marker histogram f () b
(3) Repeat the dilation operation of a marker
m ask h
histogram hk with respect to a mask

(b) Smoothed histogram of (a)
[left: Liver CT image, right : Lung CT image]

histogReamth withe resationopetationf

Fig. I The smoothed histogram for the given image.

f such that hk+, = (hk @b)fnf until hk+, = hk

2.2 Mode Detection of Clusters

We will consider an algorithm to detect the number

The morphological opening by reconstruction is

not only to maintain the basic structure of histogram
but also to smooth the histogram by eliminating trivial
peaks that cannot contain the structuring element.

of clusters and modes from the smoothed histogram.

First, regional maxima are connected components of
pixels with the same intensity value whose extemal
boundary pixels all have a value less than this value.
Pixels that are set to one identify regional maxima and
all other pixels are set to zero [6]. Next, we have
applied a labeling operation to the points in color
domain with regional maxima to identify each cluster.
Labeling process makes it possible to determine
automatically the number of cluster components.
Figure 2 shows the rectangular shapes of cluster
components and positions of the center of mass for the

applied to the closing by reconstruction operation for

better smoothing. It can be implemented by
complementing a histogram, computing it's opening by
reconstruction, and then complementing the result. The
idea behind the morphological closing is build an
operator tending to recover the initial shape of the


histogram of the image. We can note that the number

of detected modes corresponds to the number of
clusters in the original image. These modes will be an
initial value of each parameter when we apply the
DAEM algorithm to estimate unsupervisely the
parameters of GMM.

P(yk 09) = *r4(yi; ik a<)





is the mixture coefficient for each

component and
Pk a ) denotes a normal
distribution with mean
and a variance a'.
Furthermore, we let Z1,",Z,, denote the hidden
class indicator vectors for each pixels, where the k th
element z,k of Z is taken to be one or zero according
to the case in which the i th pixel does or does not
belong to the k th cluster. Here, if parameter vector 7r
is denoted as the prior probabilities in which each pixel
belongs to a particular cluster, then the probability
function of Z, is given as follows:

(a) Liver CT image


P(ZI;Xt) = [k=1 k'*


Thus, the joint probability model for the given

image can be represent the following form as

A 2

..... YAN; Z I

f: .,


2 NI


=rJ (J(rk(Yi; kiX ak ))'

(b) Lung CT image

Fig. 2 The clusters and positions of modes for a given


Here, in order to use this model for image

CT image

segmentation, we need to the new technique that can

be used to obtain the globally optimal estimators for

2.3. Statistical Modeling for Medical Image

and Its Parareter Estimation.

parameters using in GMM. One of them is known to

be the simulated annealing or the deterministic
annealing. Here we will use the deterministic

annealing Expectation Maximization technique.

Specifically, it starts with initial values ,60for the

Here we introduce a novel method for segmentation

of CT images being called as DAEM(Deterministic
Annealing Expectation Maximization)[7,8,9,10]
segmentation. This method incorporates Gaussian
mixture model into DAEM algorithm.
Suppose that a given image consists of a set of
disjoint pixel labeled I to N, and that it is composed
by the K distinct materials or classes. Also we let y,
denotes the gray values observed from i di pixel
( i = l,- ,N ). Here, if we will employ a GMM to
characterize the intensity distribution of gray values
observed from each pixels consisting of a given image,
then a density function of intensity Ye is defined as the
following model

temperature parameter a and (0(0), r(O)) for the

parameter vector e and the prior probabilities X for
the tissue classification and then we first generates
iteratively successive estimates (0(t,x(I)) at the
given value 8 by applying the following Annealing E
step and M step, for t =1,2,- - and next we repeat the
Annealing EM step as we increase the value of

temperature f.


DA-E-Step: Here, introducing an annealing

parameter /5, we consider the following objective

=E (') (-logp(yI


z4E)pz))+/3 Ep(,)(1ogPz() (4)


(p(y z,E)p(z))/
(P(yI z',G)P(Z')r

Ak =


conditional expectation of the hidden variable Zik

given the observed feature data as follows.



'0(yi HJ




= argmax1<k<K
i = 1 N (9)
1~k~ r (Yi),


))Then, we can segment an image by assigning the

i -th pixel to the ,i -th cluster Ck having the
maximum a posterior probability.


DA-M-Step: Next, we should find the minimum of

9(PJ('), 0) with respect to 0 with fixed posterior
distribution p (z y, 0). It means finding the estimates

3. Experimental Results

i(t) that minimizes 9(Pf('), 0). Since the second term

on the right hand side of the generalized free energy in
is independent of E, we should find the
Equation (4)
( iindepententof
value of @ minimizing the first term
Q,, (0) = E ,) (- log P(Y Z, )p(Z))


Finally, we can segment each slice image using the

posterior probability obtained from the DAEM
algorithm. First, we will use the cluster technique for
the segmentation of medical images. Suppose that a
given image consists of a set of the K distinct objects
or clusters C1 ... CK. We usually segment an image to
assign each pixel to cluster with maximum posterior
probability. To do this, we try to find what the cluster
bahas the maximum value among the estimated posterior
probabilities obtained by using DAEM algorithm.
This is define as

Hence we can obtain a new posterior distribution,

. So, using a new

Y; i

6k (Yi)

k =ls K

Lri (Yi)

pB. (z I y, 0) parameterized by /

Tk (Yi ) E(Zik ) _


The solution of the minimization problem

associated with the generalized free energy in
L9(P,5('),0) with respect to probability distribution
p(z;i) with a fixed parameter 0 is the following
Gibbs distribution:
P6(Z IY30 ) =


To demonstrate the performance of the automatic

segmentation method, we have applied the algorithm
to the CT liver
and lung CT images in Fig. 3
and Fig. 4. To images
find the mode,
we have first applied
morphological reconstruction operations and regional


maxima operation to the pixel value histogram. Then,

labeling process makes it possible to determine
automatically the number of cluster components from
From minimizing trial, we can obtain the
estimators of mixin proportions,thecomponenthe binary signal resulted from the regional maxima.
Finally, the center of mass detection method is applied
and the variance. These
are respectively givenent
as mean
to the binary signal of clusters to find modes. The
mode information is fed to the DAEM algorithm to
estimate the parameters of the GMM. Then the
algorithm segments CT images by assigning each pixel
*k = y Z4k
to the region having
the maximum a posterior
i-l (Yi), k = 1.*K




We can see that the liver regions are partitioned

accurately with the fine structure in Fig. 3.

Fig. 4 Results of the automatic segmentation scheme

for CT lung images (15' row: Original CT lung images,
2'd row: Segmentation result of DAEM, 3'd row
Lung segmentation region)

4. Conclusions
In this paper, we have proposed clustering
algorithm combining the morphological operations and
the DAEM algorithm for an automatic segmentation of
medical image. The morphological operations provide
th unsupervised mode detection when the number of
ensu is
is not kn
known aa priori. The DAEM
algorithm is the estimation method of various
parameters in GMM derived from the principle of
maximum associated
entropy to with
local maximum
the the

Fig. 3 Results of the automatic segmentation scheme

for CT liver images (IS row: Original CT liver images,
2"" row :Segmentation result of DAEM, 33rd row:
Liver segmentation



In Fig. 4 the major structures of the lung are

properly segmented.

We conclude from the experiments for the various
CT images that the morphological operations have
been proven to perform well in detecting the number
of components or clusters in complicated feature
spaces, and the DAEM algorithm provides a global

parameters. Finally, we note this algorithm has

segmented efficiently various CT images.


toptimal solution for the





of the


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