Robust extraction for low-contrast liver tumors using modified adaptive likelihood estimation

  • Qing Huang
  • Hui Ding
  • Xiaodong Wang
  • Guangzhi WangEmail author
Original Article



Liver tumor extraction is essential for liver ablation surgery planning and treatment. For accurate and robust tumor segmentation, we propose a semiautomatic method using adaptive likelihood classification with modified likelihood model.


First, a minimal ellipse (or quasi-ellipsoid) that encloses a liver tumor is generated for initialization. Then, a hybrid intensity likelihood modification based on nonparametric density estimation is proposed to enhance local likelihood contrast and reduce its inhomogeneity. A prior elliptical (or quasi-ellipsoid) shape constraint is directly integrated into the likelihood to further prevent leakage of the algorithm into adjacent tissues with similar intensity. Finally, an adaptive likelihood classification is proposed for accurate segmentation of tumors with low contrast, high noise or heterogeneous densities.


Experiments were performed on 3Dircadb and LiTS datasets. The average volumetric overlap errors of the 3Dircadb and LiTS datasets were 27.05 and 35.72%, respectively. The algorithm’s robustness was validated by comparing results of 5 operators with multiple selections on different tumors.


The proposed method achieved good results in different tumors, even in low-contrast tumors with blurred boundaries. Reliable results can still be achieved over different initializations by different operators using the proposed method.


Liver tumor segmentation Hybrid intensity likelihood modification Shape constraint modification Adaptive likelihood classification 



The authors appreciate Julia Wu from MIT for English correction and acknowledge the support of the National Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant Number 81471759).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© CARS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qing Huang
    • 1
  • Hui Ding
    • 1
  • Xiaodong Wang
    • 2
  • Guangzhi Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Room C249, Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of MedicineTsinghua UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Interventional RadiologyPeking University Cancer Hospital and Institute, Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research (Ministry of Education)BeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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