Shape "break-and-repair" strategy and its application to automated medical image segmentation

Jiantao Pu, David S. Paik, Xin Meng, Justus Roos, Geoffrey D. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


In three-dimensional medical imaging, segmentation of specific anatomy structure is often a preprocessing step for computer-aided detection/diagnosis (CAD) purposes, and its performance has a significant impact on diagnosis of diseases as well as objective quantitative assessment of therapeutic efficacy. However, the existence of various diseases, image noise or artifacts, and individual anatomical variety generally impose a challenge for accurate segmentation of specific structures. To address these problems, a shape analysis strategy termed break-and-repair is presented in this study to facilitate automated medical image segmentation. Similar to surface approximation using a limited number of control points, the basic idea is to remove problematic regions and then estimate a smooth and complete surface shape by representing the remaining regions with high fidelity as an implicit function. The innovation of this shape analysis strategy is the capability of solving challenging medical image segmentation problems in a unified framework, regardless of the variability of anatomical structures in question. In our implementation, principal curvature analysis is used to identify and remove the problematic regions and radial basis function (RBF) based implicit surface fitting is used to achieve a closed (or complete) surface boundary. The feasibility and performance of this strategy are demonstrated by applying it to automated segmentation of two completely different anatomical structures depicted on CT examinations, namely human lungs and pulmonary nodules. Our quantitative experiments on a large number of clinical CT examinations collected from different sources demonstrate the accuracy, robustness, and generality of the shape break-and-repair strategy in medical image segmentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5453358
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Shape analysis
  • computer-aided detection/diagnosis.
  • medical image segmentation
  • surface interpolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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