An image-processing strategy for the segmentation and quantification of microaneurysms in fluorescein angiograms of the ocular fundus

T Spencer, J A Olson, K C McHardy, P F Sharp, J V Forrester
Computers and Biomedical Research, An International Journal 1996, 29 (4): 284-302
Digital image-processing techniques can provide an objective and highly repeatable way of quantifying retinal pathology. This study describes an image-processing strategy which detects and quantifies microaneurysms present in digitized fluorescein angiograms. After preprocessing stages, a bilinear top-hat transformation and matched filtering are employed to provide an initial segmentation of the images. Thresholding this processed image results in a binary image containing candidate microaneurysms. A novel region-growing algorithm fully delineates each marked object and subsequent analysis of the size, shape, and energy characteristics of each candidate results in the final segmentation of microaneurysms. The technique is assessed by comparing the computer's results with microaneurysm counts carried out by five clinicians, using Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves. The performance of the automated technique matched that of the clinicians' analyses. This strategy is valuable in providing a way of accurately monitoring the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

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