Keywords: coronary artery, vessel stenosis, segmentation, multi-channel, U-net
Abstract: Vessel stenosis is a major risk factor in cardiovascular diseases (CVD). To analyze the degree of vessel stenosis for supporting the treatment management, extraction of coronary artery area from Computed Tomographic Angiography (CTA) is regarded as a key procedure. However, manual segmentation by cardiologists may be a time-consuming task, and present a significant inter-observer variation. Although various computer-aided approaches have been developed to support segmentation of coronary arteries in CTA, the results remain unreliable due to complex attenuation appearance of plaques, which are the cause of the stenosis. To overcome the difficulties caused by attenuation ambiguity, in this paper, a 3D multi-channel U-Net architecture is proposed for fully automatic 3D coronary artery reconstruction from CTA. Other than using the original CTA image, the main idea of the proposed approach is to incorporate the vesselness map into the input of the U-Net, which serves as the reinforcing information to highlight the tubular structure of coronary arteries. The experimental results show that the proposed approach could achieve a Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) of 0.8 in comparison to around 0.6 attained by previous CNN approaches.
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