Morphometric analysis of brain structures in MRI
Medical computer vision is a novel research discipline based on the application of computer vision methods to data sets acquired via medical imaging techniques. This work focuses on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data sets, particularly in studies of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. Research on these diseases is challenged by the lack of appropriate morphometric tools to accurately quantify lesion growth, assess the effectiveness of a drug treatment, or investigate anatomical information believed to be evidence of schizophrenia. Thus, most hypotheses involving these conditions remain unproven. This thesis contributes towards the development of such morphometric techniques. A framework combining several tools is established, allowing for compensation of bias fields, boundary detection by modelling partial volume effects (PVE), and a combined statistical and geometrical segmentation method. Most importantly, it also allows for the computation of confidence bounds in the location of the object being segmented by bounding PVE voxels. Bounds obtained in such fashion encompass a significant percentage of the volume of the object (typically 20-60%). A statistical model of the intensities contained in PVE voxels is used to provide insight into the contents of PVE voxels and further narrow confidence bounds. This not only permits a reduction by an order of magnitude in the width of the confidence intervals, but also establishes a statistical mechanism to obtain probability distributions on shape descriptors (e.g. volume), instead of just a raw magnitude or a set of confidence bounds. A challenging clinical study is performed using these tools: to investigate differences in asymmetry of the temporal horns in schizophrenia. This study is of high clinical relevance. The results show that our tools are sufficiently accurate for studies of this kind, thus providing clinicians, for the first time, with the means to corroborate unproven hypotheses or reliably assess patient evolution.