Uncluttered single-image visualization of the abdominal aortic vessel tree: Method and evaluation

Joong Ho Won, Jarrett Rosenberg, Geoffrey D. Rubin, Sandy Napel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: The authors develop a method to visualize the abdominal aorta and its branches, obtained by CT or MR angiography, in a single 2D stylistic image without overlap among branches. Methods: The abdominal aortic vasculature is modeled as an articulated object whose underlying topology is a rooted tree. The inputs to the algorithm are the 3D centerlines of the abdominal aorta, its branches, and their associated diameter information. The visualization problem is formulated as an optimization problem that finds a spatial configuration of the bounding boxes of the centerlines most similar to the projection of the input into a given viewing direction (e.g., anteroposterior), while not introducing intersections among the boxes. The optimization algorithm minimizes a score function regarding the overlap of the bounding boxes and the deviation from the input. The output of the algorithm is used to produce a stylistic visualization, made of the 2D centerlines modulated by the associated diameter information, on a plane. The authors performed a preliminary evaluation by asking three radiologists to label 366 arterial branches from the 30 visualizations of five cases produced by the method. Each of the five patients was presented in six different variant images, selected from ten variants with the three lowest and three highest scores. For each label, they assigned confidence and distortion ratings (low/medium/high). They studied the association between the quantitative metrics measured from the visualization and the subjective ratings by the radiologists. Results: All resulting visualizations were free from branch overlaps. Labeling accuracies of the three readers were 93.4%, 94.5%, and 95.4%, respectively. For the total of 1098 samples, the distortion ratings were low: 77.39%, medium: 10.48%, and high: 12.12%. The confidence ratings were low: 5.56%, medium: 16.50%, and high: 77.94%. The association study shows that the proposed quantitative metrics can predict a reader's subjective ratings and suggests that the visualization with the lowest score should be selected for readers. Conclusions: The method for eliminating misleading false intersections in 2D projections of the abdominal aortic tree conserves the overall shape and does not diminish accurate identifiability of the branches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5245-5260
Number of pages16
JournalMedical physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal aorta
  • Articulated object model
  • Simulated annealing
  • Single-image visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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