Cardiac motion estimation in ultrasound images using a sparse representation and dictionary learning

Abstract : Cardiovascular diseases have become a major healthcare issue. Improving the diagnosis and analysis of these diseases have thus become a primary concern in cardiology. The heart is a moving organ that undergoes complex deformations. Therefore, the quantification of cardiac motion from medical images, particularly ultrasound, is a key part of the techniques used for diagnosis in clinical practice. Thus, significant research efforts have been directed toward developing new cardiac motion estimation methods. These methods aim at improving the quality and accuracy of the estimated motions. However, they are still facing many challenges due to the complexity of cardiac motion and the quality of ultrasound images. Recently, learning-based techniques have received a growing interest in the field of image processing. More specifically, sparse representations and dictionary learning strategies have shown their efficiency in regularizing different ill-posed inverse problems. This thesis investigates the benefits that such sparsity and learning-based techniques can bring to cardiac motion estimation. Three main contributions are presented, investigating different aspects and challenges that arise in echocardiography. Firstly, a method for cardiac motion estimation using a sparsity-based regularization is introduced. The motion estimation problem is formulated as an energy minimization, whose data fidelity term is built using the assumption that the images are corrupted by multiplicative Rayleigh noise. In addition to a classical spatial smoothness constraint, the proposed method exploits the sparse properties of the cardiac motion to regularize the solution via an appropriate dictionary learning step. Secondly, a fully robust optical flow method is proposed. The aim of this work is to take into account the limitations of ultrasound imaging and the violations of the regularization constraints. In this work, two regularization terms imposing spatial smoothness and sparsity of the motion field in an appropriate cardiac motion dictionary are also exploited. In order to ensure robustness to outliers, an iteratively re-weighted minimization strategy is proposed using weighting functions based on M-estimators. As a last contribution, we investigate a cardiac motion estimation method using a combination of sparse, spatial and temporal regularizations. The problem is formulated within a general optical flow framework. The proposed temporal regularization enforces smoothness of the motion trajectories between consecutive images. Furthermore, an iterative groupewise motion estimation allows us to incorporate the three regularization terms, while enabling the processing of the image sequence as a whole. Throughout this thesis, the proposed contributions are validated using synthetic and realistic simulated cardiac ultrasound images. These datasets with available groundtruth are used to evaluate the accuracy of the proposed approaches and show their competitiveness with state-of-the-art algorithms. In order to demonstrate clinical feasibility, in vivo sequences of healthy and pathological subjects are considered for the first two methods. A preliminary investigation is conducted for the last contribution, i.e., exploiting temporal smoothness, using simulated data.
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Nora Ouzir. Cardiac motion estimation in ultrasound images using a sparse representation and dictionary learning. Medical Imaging. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018TOU30149⟩. ⟨tel-02301546⟩

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