Lung CAD systems require the ability to classify a variety of pulmonary structures as part of the diagnostic process. The purpose of this work was to develop a methodology for fully automated voxel-by-voxel classification of airways, fissures, nodules, and vessels from chest CT images using a single feature set and classification method. Twenty-nine thin section CT scans were obtained from the Lung Image Database Consortium (LIDC). Multiple radiologists labeled voxels corresponding to the following structures: airways (trachea to 6th generation), major and minor lobar fissures, nodules, and vessels (hilum to peripheral), and normal lung parenchyma. The labeled data was used in conjunction with a supervised machine learning approach (AdaBoost) to train a set of ensemble classifiers. Each ensemble classifier was trained to detect voxels part of a specific structure (either airway, fissure, nodule, vessel, or parenchyma). The feature set consisted of voxel attenuation and a small number of features based on the eigenvalues of the Hessian matrix (used to differentiate structures by shape). When each ensemble classifier was composed of 20 weak classifiers, the AUC values for the airway, fissure, nodule, vessel, and parenchyma classifiers were 0.984+/-0.011, 0.949+/-0.009, 0.945+/-0.018, 0.953+/-0.016, and 0.931+/-0.015, respectively. The strong results suggest that this could be an effective input to higher-level anatomical based segmentation models with the potential to improve CAD performance.
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