In this paper, we present a segmentation scheme that automatically and accurately segments all the cartilages from magnetic resonance (MR) images of nonpathological knees. Our scheme involves the automatic segmentation of the bones using a three-dimensional active shape model, the extraction of the expected bone-cartilage interface (BCI), and cartilage segmentation from the BCI using a deformable model that utilizes localization, patient specific tissue estimation and a model of the thickness variation. The accuracy of this scheme was experimentally validated using leave one out experiments on a database of fat suppressed spoiled gradient recall MR images. The scheme was compared to three state of the art approaches, tissue classification, a modified semi-automatic watershed algorithm and nonrigid registration (B-spline based free form deformation). Our scheme obtained an average Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) of (0.83, 0.83, 0.85) for the (patellar, tibial, femoral) cartilages, while (0.82, 0.81, 0.86) was obtained with a tissue classifier and (0.73, 0.79, 0.76) was obtained with nonrigid registration. The average DSC obtained for all the cartilages using a semi-automatic watershed algorithm (0.90) was slightly higher than our approach (0.89), however unlike this approach we segment each cartilage as a separate object. The effectiveness of our approach for quantitative analysis was evaluated using volume and thickness measures with a median volume difference error of (5.92, 4.65, 5.69) and absolute Laplacian thickness difference of (0.13, 0.24, 0.12) mm.
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