Three-dimensional lung tumor segmentation from x-ray computed tomography using sparse field active models

Joseph Awad, Amir Owrangi, Lauren Villemaire, Elaine O'Riordan, Grace Parraga, Aaron Fenster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: Manual segmentation of lung tumors is observer dependent and time-consuming but an important component of radiology and radiation oncology workflow. The objective of this study was to generate an automated lung tumor measurement tool for segmentation of pulmonary metastatic tumors from x-ray computed tomography (CT) images to improve reproducibility and decrease the time required to segment tumor boundaries. Methods: The authors developed an automated lung tumor segmentation algorithm for volumetric image analysis of chest CT images using shape constrained Otsu multithresholding (SCOMT) and sparse field active surface (SFAS) algorithms. The observer was required to select the tumor center and the SCOMT algorithm subsequently created an initial surface that was deformed using level set SFAS to minimize the total energy consisting of mean separation, edge, partial volume, rolling, distribution, background, shape, volume, smoothness, and curvature energies. Results: The proposed segmentation algorithm was compared to manual segmentation whereby 21 tumors were evaluated using one-dimensional (1D) response evaluation criteria in solid tumors (RECIST), two-dimensional (2D) World Health Organization (WHO), and 3D volume measurements. Linear regression goodness-of-fit measures (r 2 0.63, p 0.0001; r2 0.87, p 0.0001; and r2 0.96, p 0.0001), and Pearson correlation coefficients (r 0.79, p 0.0001; r 0.93, p 0.0001; and r 0.98, p 0.0001) for 1D, 2D, and 3D measurements, respectively, showed significant correlations between manual and algorithm results. Intra-observer intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) demonstrated high reproducibility for algorithm (0.989-0.995, 0.996-0.997, and 0.999-0.999) and manual measurements (0.975-0.993, 0.985-0.993, and 0.980-0.992) for 1D, 2D, and 3D measurements, respectively. The intra-observer coefficient of variation (CV) was low for algorithm (3.09-4.67, 4.85-5.84, and 5.65-5.88) and manual observers (4.20-6.61, 8.14-9.57, and 14.57-21.61) for 1D, 2D, and 3D measurements, respectively. Conclusions: The authors developed an automated segmentation algorithm requiring only that the operator select the tumor to measure pulmonary metastatic tumors in 1D, 2D, and 3D. Algorithm and manual measurements were significantly correlated. Since the algorithm segmentation involves selection of a single seed point, it resulted in reduced intra-observer variability and decreased time, for making the measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-865
Number of pages15
JournalMedical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • 3D segmentation
  • CT images
  • Lung tumors
  • level set
  • sparse field active surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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