Patch-based lung ventilation estimation using multi-layer supervoxels.
Szmul A., Matin T., Gleeson FV., Schnabel JA., Grau V., Papież BW.
Patch-based approaches have received substantial attention over the recent years in medical imaging. One of their potential applications may be to provide more anatomically consistent ventilation maps estimated on dynamic lung CT. An assessment of regional lung function may act as a guide for radiotherapy, ensuring a more accurate treatment plan. This in turn, could spare well-functioning parts of the lungs. We present a novel method for lung ventilation estimation from dynamic lung CT imaging, combining a supervoxel-based image representation with deformations estimated during deformable image registration, performed between peak breathing phases. For this we propose a method that tracks changes of the intensity of previously extracted supervoxels. For the evaluation of the method we calculate correlation of the estimated ventilation maps with static ventilation images acquired from hyperpolarized Xenon129 MRI. We also investigate the influence of different image registration methods used to estimate deformations between the peak breathing phases in the dynamic CT imaging. We show that our method performs favorably to other ventilation estimation methods commonly used in the field, independently of the image registration method applied to dynamic CT. Due to the patch-based approach of our method, it may be physiologically more consistent with lung anatomy than previous methods relying on voxel-wise relationships. In our method the ventilation is estimated for supervoxels, which tend to group spatially close voxels with similar intensity values. The proposed method was evaluated on a dataset consisting of three lung cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment, and this resulted in a correlation of 0.485 with XeMRI ventilation images, compared with 0.393 for the intensity-based approach, 0.231 for the Jacobian-based method and 0.386 for the Hounsfield units averaging method, on average. Within the limitation of the small number of cases analyzed, results suggest that the presented technique may be advantageous for CT-based ventilation estimation. The results showing higher values of correlation of the proposed method demonstrate the potential of our method to more accurately mimic the lung physiology.