An integrated system for the segmentation of atherosclerotic carotid plaque ultrasound video

Christos P. Loizou, Styliani Petroudi, Marios Pantziaris, Andrew N. Nicolaides, Constantinos S. Pattichis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The robust border identification of atherosclerotic carotid plaque, the corresponding degree of stenosis of the common carotid artery (CCA), and also the characteristics of the arterial wall, including plaque size, composition, and elasticity, have significant clinical relevance for the assessment of future cardiovascular events. To facilitate the follow-up and analysis of the carotid stenosis in serial clinical investigations, we propose and evaluate an integrated system for the segmentation of atherosclerotic carotid plaque in ultrasound videos of the CCA based on video frame normalization, speckle reduction filtering, M-mode state-based identification, parametric active contours, and snake segmentation. Initially, the cardiac cycle in each video is identified and the video M-mode is generated, thus identifying systolic and diastolic states. The video is then segmented for a time period of at least one full cardiac cycle. The algorithm is initialized in the first video frame of the cardiac cycle, with human assistance if needed, and the moving atherosclerotic plaque borders are tracked and segmented in the subsequent frames. Two different initialization methods are investigated in which initial contours are estimated every 20 video frames. In the first initialization method, the initial snake contour is estimated using morphology operators; in the second initialization method, the Chan-Vese active contour model is used. The performance of the algorithm is evaluated on 43 real CCA digitized videos from B-mode longitudinal ultrasound segments and is compared with the manual segmentations of an expert, available every 20 frames in a time span of 3 to 5 s, covering, in general, 2 cardiac cycles. The segmentation results were very satisfactory, according to the expert objective evaluation, for the two different methods investigated, with true-negative fractions (TNF-specificity) of 83.7 ± 7.6% and 84.3 ± 7.5%; true-positive fractions (TPF-sensitivity) of 85.42 ± 8.1% and 86.1 ± 8.0%; and between the ground truth and the proposed segmentation method, kappa indices (KI) of 84.6% and 85.3% and overlap indices of 74.7% and 75.4%. The segmentation contours were also used to compute the cardiac state identification and radial, longitudinal, and shear strain indices for the CCA wall and plaque between the asymptomatic and symptomatic groups were investigated. The results of this study show that the integrated system investigated in this study can be successfully used for the automated video segmentation of the CCA plaque in ultrasound videos.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6689778
Pages (from-to)86-101
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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