Accurate Segmentation of CT Male Pelvic Organs via Regression-Based Deformable Models and Multi-Task Random Forests

Yaozong Gao, Yeqin Shao, Jun Lian, Andrew Z. Wang, Ronald C. Chen, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Segmenting male pelvic organs from CT images is a prerequisite for prostate cancer radiotherapy. The efficacy of radiation treatment highly depends on segmentation accuracy. However, accurate segmentation of male pelvic organs is challenging due to low tissue contrast of CT images, as well as large variations of shape and appearance of the pelvic organs. Among existing segmentation methods, deformable models are the most popular, as shape prior can be easily incorporated to regularize the segmentation. Nonetheless, the sensitivity to initialization often limits their performance, especially for segmenting organs with large shape variations. In this paper, we propose a novel approach to guide deformable models, thus making them robust against arbitrary initializations. Specifically, we learn a displacement regressor, which predicts 3D displacement from any image voxel to the target organ boundary based on the local patch appearance. This regressor provides a non-local external force for each vertex of deformable model, thus overcoming the initialization problem suffered by the traditional deformable models. To learn a reliable displacement regressor, two strategies are particularly proposed. 1) A multi-task random forest is proposed to learn the displacement regressor jointly with the organ classifier; 2) an auto-context model is used to iteratively enforce structural information during voxel-wise prediction. Extensive experiments on 313 planning CT scans of 313 patients show that our method achieves better results than alternative classification or regression based methods, and also several other existing methods in CT pelvic organ segmentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7384757
Pages (from-to)1532-1543
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Image segmentation
  • computed tomography
  • deformable model
  • machine learning
  • pelvic organs
  • prostate cancer
  • random forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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