Enhancement of lesion classification using divergence, curl and curvature of skin pattern

Zhishun She, A W G Duller, P J Fish
Skin Research and Technology 2004, 10 (4): 222-30

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: The observation that skin pattern tends to be disrupted by malignant but not by benign skin lesions suggests that measurements of skin pattern disruption on simply captured white light optical clinical (WLC) skin images could be a useful contribution to a diagnostic feature set. Previous work which generated a flow field of skin pattern using a measurement of local line direction and variation determined by the minimum eigenvalue and its corresponding eigenvector of the local tensor matrix to measure skin pattern disruption was computationally low cost and encouraging. This paper explores the possibility of extracting new features from the first and second differentiations of this flow field to enhance classification performance.

METHODS: The skin pattern was extracted from WLC skin images by high-pass filtering. The skin line direction was estimated using a local image gradient matrix to produce a flow field of skin pattern. Divergence, curl, mean and Gaussian curvatures of this flow field were computed from the first and second differentiations of this flow field. The difference of these measures combined with skin line direction across the lesion image boundary was used as a lesion classifier.

RESULTS: A set of images of malignant melanoma and benign naevi were analysed as above and the scatter plot in a two-dimensional dominant feature space using principal component analysis showed excellent separation of benign and malignant lesions. A receiver operating characteristic plot enclosed an area of 0.96.

CONCLUSIONS: The experimental results show that the divergence, curl, mean and Gaussian curvatures of the flow field can increase lesion classifier accuracy. Combined with skin line direction they are promising features for distinguishing malignant melanoma from benign lesions and the methods used are computationally efficient which is important if their use is to be considered in clinical practice.

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