We have improved a computerized scheme for the detection of intracranial aneurysms for three-dimensional (3-D) magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) by the use of image features of small protrusions extracted based on a shape-based difference image (SBDI) technique. Initial candidates were identified by use of a multiple gray-level thresholding technique in dot enhanced images, and by finding short branches in skeleton images. Image features related to aneurysms were determined based on candidate regions segmented by use of a region growing technique. For extracting additional features on small protrusions or small aneurysms, we have developed an SBDI technique, which was based on the shape-based difference between an original segmented vessel and a vessel with suppressed local change in thickness. The SBDI technique was useful for obtaining local changes in vessel thickness, i.e., SBD regions, which could be small aneurysms in the case of true positives, but thin or very small regions in the case of false positives. Many false positives were removed by means of rule-based schemes and linear discriminant analysis on various 3-D localized image features, including SBDI features. We tested the computerized scheme on 53 cases with 61 aneurysms and 62 nonaneurysm cases based on a leave-one-out-by-patient test method. As a result, false positives per patient decreased from 5.8 to 3.8, while a high sensitivity of 97% was maintained by use of the SBDI technique, in which SBDI features were effective for removing some false positives. The computer-aided diagnostic (CAD) scheme may be robust and useful in assisting radiologists in the detection of intracranial aneurysms for MRA.
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