, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 299–320

Segmentation of multiple sclerosis lesions in MR images: a review

  • Daryoush Mortazavi
  • Abbas Z. Kouzani
  • Hamid Soltanian-Zadeh
Diagnostic Neuroradiology

DOI: 10.1007/s00234-011-0886-7

Cite this article as:
Mortazavi, D., Kouzani, A.Z. & Soltanian-Zadeh, H. Neuroradiology (2012) 54: 299. doi:10.1007/s00234-011-0886-7



Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease that the parts of the nervous system through the lesions generated in the white matter of the brain. It brings about disabilities in different organs of the body such as eyes and muscles. Early detection of MS and estimation of its progression are critical for optimal treatment of the disease.


For diagnosis and treatment evaluation of MS lesions, they may be detected and segmented in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of the brain. However, due to the large amount of MRI data to be analyzed, manual segmentation of the lesions by clinical experts translates into a very cumbersome and time consuming task. In addition, manual segmentation is subjective and prone to human errors. Several groups have developed computerized methods to detect and segment MS lesions. These methods are not categorized and compared in the past.


This paper reviews and compares various MS lesion segmentation methods proposed in recent years. It covers conventional methods like multilevel thresholding and region growing, as well as more recent Bayesian methods that require parameter estimation algorithms. It also covers parameter estimation methods like expectation maximization and adaptive mixture model which are among unsupervised techniques as well as kNN and Parzen window methods that are among supervised techniques.


Integration of knowledge-based methods such as atlas-based approaches with Bayesian methods increases segmentation accuracy. In addition, employing intelligent classifiers like Fuzzy C-Means, Fuzzy Inference Systems, and Artificial Neural Networks reduces misclassified voxels.


Multiple sclerosisMagnetic resonance imagingSegmentationImage processingPattern recognition

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daryoush Mortazavi
    • 1
  • Abbas Z. Kouzani
    • 1
  • Hamid Soltanian-Zadeh
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of EngineeringDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.Image Analysis Laboratory, Radiology DepartmentHenry Ford Health SystemDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Control and Intelligent Processing Center of Excellence (CIPCE), School of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  4. 4.School of Cognitive Sciences, Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics (IPM)TehranIran