Journal of Digital Imaging

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 121–128 | Cite as

A Comprehensive Descriptor of Shape: Method and Application to Content-Based Retrieval of Similar Appearing Lesions in Medical Images

  • Jiajing XuEmail author
  • Jessica Faruque
  • Christopher F. Beaulieu
  • Daniel Rubin
  • Sandy Napel


We have developed a method to quantify the shape of liver lesions in CT images and to evaluate its performance for retrieval of images with similarly-shaped lesions. We employed a machine learning method to combine several shape descriptors and defined similarity measures for a pair of shapes as a weighted combination of distances calculated based on each feature. We created a dataset of 144 simulated shapes and established several reference standards for similarity and computed the optimal weights so that the retrieval result agrees best with the reference standard. Then we evaluated our method on a clinical database consisting of 79 portal-venous-phase CT liver images, where we derived a reference standard of similarity from radiologists’ visual evaluation. Normalized Discounted Cumulative Gain (NDCG) was calculated to compare this ordering with the expected ordering based on the reference standard. For the simulated lesions, the mean NDCG values ranged from 91% to 100%, indicating that our methods for combining features were very accurate in representing true similarity. For the clinical images, the mean NDCG values were still around 90%, suggesting a strong correlation between the computed similarity and the independent similarity reference derived the radiologists.


Image retrieval Image analysis Image processing 


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Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiajing Xu
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jessica Faruque
    • 1
  • Christopher F. Beaulieu
    • 2
  • Daniel Rubin
    • 2
  • Sandy Napel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Electrical EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.StanfordUSA

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