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Connecting Markov random fields and active contour models: application to gland segmentation and classification

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jun Xu, James P. Monaco, Rachel Sparks, Anant Madabhushi

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)021107
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging
Issue number2
Published28 Mar 2017

King's Authors


We introduce a Markov random field (MRF)-driven region-based active contour model (MaRACel) for histological image segmentation. This Bayesian segmentation method combines a region-based active contour (RAC) with an MRF. State-of-the-art RAC models assume that every spatial location in the image is statistically independent, thereby ignoring valuable contextual information among spatial locations. To address this shortcoming, we incorporate an MRF prior into energy term of the RAC. This requires a formulation of the Markov prior consistent with the continuous variational framework characteristic of active contours; consequently, we introduce a continuous analog to the discrete Potts model. Based on the automated segmentation boundary of glands by MaRACel model, explicit shape descriptors are then employed to distinguish prostate glands belonging to Gleason patterns 3 (G3) and 4 (G4). To demonstrate the effectiveness of MaRACel, we compare its performance to the popular models proposed by Chan and Vese (CV) and Rousson and Deriche (RD) with respect to the following tasks: (1) the segmentation of prostatic acini (glands) and (2) the differentiation of G3 and G4 glands. On almost 600 prostate biopsy needle images, MaRACel was shown to have higher average dice coefficients, overlap ratios, sensitivities, specificities, and positive predictive values both in terms of segmentation accuracy and ability to discriminate between G3 and G4 glands compared to the CV and RD models.

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