Computer Assisted Coronary CT Angiography Analysis : Disease-centered Software Development

Sammanfattning: The substantial advances of coronary CTA have resulted in a boost of use of this new technique in the last several years, which brings a big challenge to radiologists by the increasing number of exams and the large amount of data for each patient. The main goal of this study was to develop a computer tool to facilitate coronary CTA analysis by combining knowledge of medicine and image processing.Firstly, a competing fuzzy connectedness tree algorithm was developed to segment the coronary arteries and extract centerlines for each branch. The new algorithm, which is an extension of the “virtual contrast injection” method, preserves the low density soft tissue around the coronary, which reduces the possibility of introducing false positive stenoses during segmentation.Secondly, this algorithm was implemented in open source software in which multiple visualization techniques were integrated into an intuitive user interface to facilitate user interaction and provide good over¬views of the processing results. Considerable efforts were put on optimizing the computa¬tional speed of the algorithm to meet the clinical requirements.Thirdly, an automatic seeding method, that can automatically remove rib cage and recognize the aortic root, was introduced into the interactive segmentation workflow to further minimize the requirement of user interactivity during post-processing. The automatic procedure is carried out right after the images are received, which saves users time after they open the data. Vessel enhance¬ment and quantitative 2D vessel contour analysis are also included in this new version of the software. In our preliminary experience, visually accurate segmentation results of major branches have been achieved in 74 cases (42 cases reported in paper II and 32 cases in paper III) using our software with limited user interaction. On 128 branches of 32 patients, the average overlap between the centerline created in our software and the manually created reference standard was 96.0%. The average distance between them was 0.38 mm, lower than the mean voxel size. The automatic procedure ran for 3-5 min as a single-thread application in the background. Interactive processing took 3 min in average with the latest version of software. In conclusion, the presented software provides fast and automatic coron¬ary artery segmentation and visualization. The accuracy of the centerline tracking was found to be acceptable when compared to manually created centerlines.