WE-G-204-07: Automated Characterization of Perceptual Quality of Clinical Chest Radiographs: Improvements in Lung, Spine, and Hardware Detection




To develop and validate more robust methods for automated lung, spine, and hardware detection in AP/PA chest images. This work is part of a continuing effort to automatically characterize the perceptual image quality of clinical radiographs. [Y. Lin et al. Med. Phys. 39, 7019–7031 (2012)]


Our previous implementation of lung/spine identification was applicable to only one vendor. A more generalized routine was devised based on three primary components: lung boundary detection, fuzzy c-means (FCM) clustering, and a clinically-derived lung pixel probability map. Boundary detection was used to constrain the lung segmentations. FCM clustering produced grayscale- and neighborhood-based pixel classification probabilities which are weighted by the clinically-derived probability maps to generate a final lung segmentation. Lung centerlines were set along the left-right lung midpoints. Spine centerlines were estimated as a weighted average of body contour, lateral lung contour, and intensity-based centerline estimates. Centerline estimation was tested on 900 clinical AP/PA chest radiographs which included inpatient/outpatient, upright/bedside, men/women, and adult/pediatric images from multiple imaging systems. Our previous implementation further did not account for the presence of medical hardware (pacemakers, wires, implants, staples, stents, etc.) potentially biasing image quality analysis. A hardware detection algorithm was developed using a gradient-based thresholding method. The training and testing paradigm used a set of 48 images from which 1920 51×51 pixel2 ROIs with and 1920 ROIs without hardware were manually selected.


Acceptable lung centerlines were generated in 98.7% of radiographs while spine centerlines were acceptable in 99.1% of radiographs. Following threshold optimization, the hardware detection software yielded average true positive and true negative rates of 92.7% and 96.9%, respectively.


Updated segmentation and centerline estimation methods in addition to new gradient-based hardware detection software provide improved data integrity control and error-checking for automated clinical chest image quality characterization across multiple radiography systems.