Unsupervised tissue type segmentation of 3D dual-echo MR head data

Guido Gerig, John Martin, Ron Kikinis, Olaf Kubler, Martha Shenton, Ferenc A. Jolesz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The visualization of 3D phenomena and the extraction of quantitative information from magnetic resonance (MR) image data require efficient semiautomated or automated segmentation techniques. The application of multivariate statistical classification to the segmentation of dual-echo volume data of the human head into tissue types (grey matter, white matter and fluid spaces) is studied in this paper. Tests of the radiometric variability of tissue classes within the data volume demonstrate the improvement of the image acquisition technology and the suitability of statistical methods to perform brain tissue segmentation. Supervised classification is successfully applied to a study of 16 MR volume images of the human head, illustrating the robustness of this method in segmenting brain (white and grey matter) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). To avoid subjective criteria involved in the supervised approach, ISODATA clustering as well as clustering based on nonparametric probability density estimation were tested. Both methods performed well (success rates 93.8% and 87.5%, respectively), indicating that the classification procedure can be completely automated. The reproducibility and reliability of supervised and unsupervised classfication were studied by comparing results of segmentation performed by five expert operators. Results suggest that the interoperator and intraoperator variations could be reduced using automated clustering techniques. The accuracy of the volume calculations was quantified by applying the MR imaging and segmentation process to a phantom resembling shape and tissue characteristics of brain tissue. The segmented brain objects are displayed using 3D surface rendering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-360
Number of pages12
JournalImage and Vision Computing
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992


  • 3D display
  • assessment of brain tissues
  • clustering
  • magnetic resonance volume data
  • medical image analysis
  • segmentation in multidimensions
  • statistical classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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