Automatic anatomical brain MRI segmentation combining label propagation and decision fusion

Rolf A. Heckemann, Joseph V. Hajnal, Paul Aljabar, Daniel Rueckert, Alexander Hammers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

747 Scopus citations


Regions in three-dimensional magnetic resonance (MR) brain images can be classified using protocols for manually segmenting and labeling structures. For large cohorts, time and expertise requirements make this approach impractical. To achieve automation, an individual segmentation can be propagated to another individual using an anatomical correspondence estimate relating the atlas image to the target image. The accuracy of the resulting target labeling has been limited but can potentially be improved by combining multiple segmentations using decision fusion. We studied segmentation propagation and decision fusion on 30 normal brain MR images, which had been manually segmented into 67 structures. Correspondence estimates were established by nonrigid registration using free-form deformations. Both direct label propagation and an indirect approach were tested. Individual propagations showed an average similarity index (SI) of 0.754 ± 0.016 against manual segmentations. Decision fusion using 29 input segmentations increased SI to 0.836 ± 0.009. For indirect propagation of a single source via 27 intermediate images, SI was 0.779 ± 0.013. We also studied the effect of the decision fusion procedure using a numerical simulation with synthetic input data. The results helped to formulate a model that predicts the quality improvement of fused brain segmentations based on the number of individual propagated segmentations combined. We demonstrate a practicable procedure that exceeds the accuracy of previous automatic methods and can compete with manual delineations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Automatic anatomical brain MRI segmentation combining label propagation and decision fusion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this