Journal of Digital Imaging

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 754–763 | Cite as

Marker-Controlled Watershed for Lesion Segmentation in Mammograms

  • Shengzhou Xu
  • Hong Liu
  • Enmin Song


Lesion segmentation, which is a critical step in computer-aided diagnosis system, is a challenging task as lesion boundaries are usually obscured, irregular, and low contrast. In this paper, an accurate and robust algorithm for the automatic segmentation of breast lesions in mammograms is proposed. The traditional watershed transformation is applied to the smoothed (by the morphological reconstruction) morphological gradient image to obtain the lesion boundary in the belt between the internal and external markers. To automatically determine the internal and external markers, the rough region of the lesion is identified by a template matching and a thresholding method. Then, the internal marker is determined by performing a distance transform and the external marker by morphological dilation. The proposed algorithm is quantitatively compared to the dynamic programming boundary tracing method and the plane fitting and dynamic programming method on a set of 363 lesions (size range, 5–42 mm in diameter; mean, 15 mm), using the area overlap metric (AOM), Hausdorff distance (HD), and average minimum Euclidean distance (AMED). The mean ± SD of the values of AOM, HD, and AMED for our method were respectively 0.72 ± 0.13, 5.69 ± 2.85 mm, and 1.76 ± 1.04 mm, which is a better performance than two other proposed segmentation methods. The results also confirm the potential of the proposed algorithm to allow reliable segmentation and quantification of breast lesion in mammograms.


Watershed Marker Lesion Mammogram Morphological gradient 


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Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer Science and TechnologyHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.Key laboratory of Education Ministry for Image Processing and Intelligent ControlWuhanChina

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