Automated lung segmentation in thoracic computed tomography scans is essential for the development of computer-aided diagnostic (CAD) methods. A core segmentation method may be developed for general application; however, modifications may be required for specific clinical tasks. An automated lung segmentation method has been applied (1) as preprocessing for automated lung nodule detection and (2) as the foundation for computer-assisted measurements of pleural mesothelioma tumor thickness. The core method uses gray-level thresholding to segment the lungs within each computed tomography section. The segmentation is revised through separation of right and left lungs along the anterior junction line, elimination of the trachea and main bronchi from the lung segmentation regions, and suppression of the diaphragm. Segmentation modifications required for nodule detection include a rolling ball algorithm to include juxtapleural nodules and morphologic erosion to eliminate partial volume pixels at the boundary of the segmentation regions. For automated lung nodule detection, 4 of 82 actual nodules (4.9%) were excluded from the lung segmentation regions when the core segmentation method was modified compared with 14 nodules (17.1%) excluded without modifications. The computer-assisted quantification of mesothelioma method achieved a correlation coefficient of 0.990 with 134 manual measurements when the core segmentation method was used alone; correlation was reduced to 0.977 when the segmentation modifications, as adapted for the lung nodule detection task, were applied to the mesothelioma measurement task. Different CAD applications impose different requirements on the automated lung segmentation process. The specific approach to lung segmentation must be adapted to the particular CAD task. © AUR, 2004.
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