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Real-Time Ultrasound Segmentation, Analysis and Visualisation of Deep Cervical Muscle Structure

Cunningham, R and Harding, P and Loram, I (2016) Real-Time Ultrasound Segmentation, Analysis and Visualisation of Deep Cervical Muscle Structure. IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging. ISSN 0278-0062


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Despite widespread availability of ultrasound and a need for personalised muscle diagnosis (neck/back pain-injury, work related disorder, myopathies, neuropathies), robust, online segmentation of muscles within complex groups remains unsolved by existing methods. For example, Cervical Dystonia (CD) is a prevalent neurological condition causing painful spasticity in one or multiple muscles in the cervical muscle system. Clinicians currently have no method for targeting/monitoring treatment of deep muscles. Automated methods of muscle segmentation would enable clinicians to study, target, and monitor the deep cervical muscles via ultrasound. We have developed a method for segmenting five bilateral cervical muscles and the spine via ultrasound alone, in real-time. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and ultrasound data were collected from 22 participants (age: 29.0 ± 6.6, male: 12). To acquire ultrasound muscle segment labels, a novel multimodal registration method was developed, involving MRI image annotation, and shape registration to MRI-matched ultrasound images, via approximation of the tissue deformation. We then applied polynomial regression to transform our annotations and textures into a mean space, before using shape statistics to generate a texture-to-shape dictionary. For segmentation, test images were compared to dictionary textures giving an initial segmentation, and then we used a customized Active Shape Model to refine the fit. Using ultrasound alone, on unseen participants, our technique currently segments a single image in ≈0.45s to over 86% accuracy (Jaccard index). We propose this approach is applicable generally to segment, extrapolate and visualise deep muscle structure, and analyse statistical features online.

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