A generative probability model of joint label fusion for multi-atlas based brain segmentation

Guorong Wu, Qian Wang, Daoqiang Zhang, Feiping Nie, Heng Huang, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Automated labeling of anatomical structures in medical images is very important in many neuroscience studies. Recently, patch-based labeling has been widely investigated to alleviate the possible mis-alignment when registering atlases to the target image. However, the weights used for label fusion from the registered atlases are generally computed independently and thus lack the capability of preventing the ambiguous atlas patches from contributing to the label fusion. More critically, these weights are often calculated based only on the simple patch similarity, thus not necessarily providing optimal solution for label fusion. To address these limitations, we propose a generative probability model to describe the procedure of label fusion in a multi-atlas scenario, for the goal of labeling each point in the target image by the best representative atlas patches that also have the largest labeling unanimity in labeling the underlying point correctly. Specifically, sparsity constraint is imposed upon label fusion weights, in order to select a small number of atlas patches that best represent the underlying target patch, thus reducing the risks of including the misleading atlas patches. The labeling unanimity among atlas patches is achieved by exploring their dependencies, where we model these dependencies as the joint probability of each pair of atlas patches in correctly predicting the labels, by analyzing the correlation of their morphological error patterns and also the labeling consensus among atlases. The patch dependencies will be further recursively updated based on the latest labeling results to correct the possible labeling errors, which falls to the Expectation Maximization (EM) framework. To demonstrate the labeling performance, we have comprehensively evaluated our patch-based labeling method on the whole brain parcellation and hippocampus segmentation. Promising labeling results have been achieved with comparison to the conventional patch-based labeling method, indicating the potential application of the proposed method in the future clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-890
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Image Analysis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • Generative probability model
  • Multi-atlas based segmentation
  • Patch-based labeling
  • Sparse representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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