Towards an automated framework for coronary lesions detection and quantification in cardiac CT angiography

Abstract : Coronary heart diseases are the group of disorders that affect the coronary artery vessels. They are the world's leading cause of mortality. Therefore, early detection of these diseases using less invasive techniques provides better therapeutic outcome, as well as reduces costs and risks, compared to an interventionist approach. Recent studies showed that X-ray computed tomography (CT) may be used as an alternative to accurately locate and grade heart lesions in a non invasive way. However, analysis of cardiac CT exam for coronaries lesions inspection remains a tedious and time consuming task, as it is based on the manual analysis of the vessel cross sections. High accuracy is required, and thus only highly experienced clinicians are able to analyze and interpret the data for diagnosis. Computerized tools are critical to reduce processing time and ensure quality of diagnostics. The goal of this thesis is to provide automated coronaries analysis tools to help in non-invasive CT angiography examination. Such tools allow pathologists to efficiently diagnose and evaluate risks associated with CVDs, and to raise the quality of the assessment from a purely qualitative level to a quantitative level. The first objective of our work is to design, analyze and validate a set of automated algorithms for coronary arteries analysis with the final purpose of automated stenoses detection and quantification. We propose different algorithms covering different processing steps towards a fully automated analysis of the coronary arteries. Our contribution covers the three major blocks of the whole processing chain and deals with different image processing fields. First, we present an algorithm dedicated to heart volume extraction. The approach extracts the heart as one single object that can be used as an input masque for automated coronary arteries segmentation. This work eliminates the tedious and time consuming step of manual removing obscuring structures around the heart (lungs, ribs, sternum, liver...) and quickly provides a clear and well defined view of the coronaries. This approach uses a geometric model of the heart that is fitted and adapted to the image data. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of results obtained on a 114 exam database shows the efficiency and the accuracy of this approach. Second, we were interested to the problem of coronary arteries enhancement and segmentation. In this context, we first designed a novel approach for coronaries enhancement that combines robust path openings and component tree filtering. The approach showed promising results on a set of 11 CT exam compared to a Hessian based approach. For a robust stenoses detection and quantification, a precise and accurate lumen segmentation is crucial. Therefore, we have dedicated a part of our work to the improvement of lumen segmentation step based on vessel statistics. Validation on the Rotterdam Coronary Challenge showed that this approach provides state of the art performances. Finally, the major core of this thesis is dedicated to the issue of stenosis detection and quantification. Two different approaches are designed and evaluated using the Rotterdam online evaluation framework. The first approach get uses of the lumen segmentation with some geometric and intensity features to extract the coronary stenosis. The second is using a learning based approach for stenosis detection and stenosis. The second approach outperforms some of the state of the art works with reference to some metrics. This thesis results in a prototype for automated coronary arteries analysis and stenosis detection and quantification that meets the level of required performances for a clinical use. The prototype was qualitatively and quantitatively validated on different sets of cardiac CT exams
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Imen Melki. Towards an automated framework for coronary lesions detection and quantification in cardiac CT angiography. Computation and Language [cs.CL]. Université Paris-Est, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015PESC1022⟩. ⟨tel-01273806v2⟩

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