Learning image context for segmentation of the prostate in CT-guided radiotherapy

Wei Li, Shu Liao, Qianjin Feng, Wufan Chen, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate segmentation of the prostate is the key to the success of external beam radiotherapy of prostate cancer. However, accurate segmentation of the prostate in computer tomography (CT) images remains challenging mainly due to three factors: (1) low image contrast between the prostate and its surrounding tissues, (2) unpredictable prostate motion across different treatment days and (3) large variations of intensities and shapes of the bladder and rectum around the prostate. In this paper, an online-learning and patient-specific classification method based on the location-adaptive image context is presented to deal with all these challenging issues and achieve the precise segmentation of the prostate in CT images. Specifically, two sets of location-adaptive classifiers are placed, respectively, along the two coordinate directions of the planning image space of a patient, and further trained with the planning image and also the previous-segmented treatment images of the same patient to jointly perform prostate segmentation for a new treatment image (of the same patient). In particular, each location-adaptive classifier, which itself consists of a set of sequential sub-classifiers, is recursively trained with both the static image appearance features and the iteratively updated image context features (extracted at different scales and orientations) for better identification of each prostate region. The proposed learning-based prostate segmentation method has been extensively evaluated on 161 images of 11 patients, each with more than nine daily treatment three-dimensional CT images. Our method achieves the mean Dice value 0.908 and the mean ± SD of average surface distance value 1.40 ± 0.57 mm. Its performance is also compared with three prostate segmentation methods, indicating the best segmentation accuracy by the proposed method among all methods under comparison.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1283-1308
Number of pages26
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar 7
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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