Vascular Centerline Extraction in 3D MR Angiograms for Phase Contrast MRI Blood Flow Measurement
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The accuracy of 2D phase contrast (PC) magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) depends on the alignment between the vessels and the imaging plane. PC MRA imaging of blood flow is challenging when the flow in several vessels is to be evaluated with one acquisition. For this purpose, semi-automatic determination of the plane most perpendicular to several vessels is proposed based on centerlines extracted from 3D MRA. Arterial centerlines are extracted from 3D MRA based on iterative estimation-prediction, multi-scale analysis of image moments, and a second-order shape model. The optimal plane is determined by minimizing misalignment between its normal vector and the centerlines’ tangent vectors. The method was evaluated on a phantom and on 35 patients, by seeking the optimal plane for cerebral blood flow quantification simultaneously in internal carotids and vertebral arteries. In the phantom, difference of orientation and of height between known and calculated planes was 1.2° and 2.5 mm, respectively. In the patients, all but one centerline were correctly extracted and the misalignment of the plane was within 12° per artery. Semi-automatic centerline extraction simplifies and automates determination of the plane orthogonal to one vessel, thereby permitting automatic simultaneous minimization of the misalignment with several vessels in PC MRA.
KeywordsComputer-assisted Image Analysis MRI angiography Three-dimensional image Carotid arteries Vertebral arteries
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