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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 349874, 16 pages
Research Article

Dependence of Shape-Based Descriptors and Mass Segmentation Areas on Initial Contour Placement Using the Chan-Vese Method on Digital Mammograms

Department of Medical Physics, University of the Free State, P.O. Box 339, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa

Received 16 February 2015; Revised 14 July 2015; Accepted 30 July 2015

Academic Editor: Chuangyin Dang

Copyright © 2015 S. N. Acho and W. I. D. Rae. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Variation in signal intensity within mass lesions and missing boundary information are intensity inhomogeneities inherent in digital mammograms. These inhomogeneities render the performance of a deformable contour susceptible to the location of its initial position and may lead to poor segmentation results for these images. We investigate the dependence of shape-based descriptors and mass segmentation areas on initial contour placement with the Chan-Vese segmentation method and compare these results to the active contours with selective local or global segmentation model. For each mass lesion, final contours were obtained by propagation of a proposed initial level set contour and by propagation of a manually drawn contour enclosing the region of interest. Differences in shape-based descriptors were quantified using absolute percentage differences, Euclidean distances, and Bland-Altman analysis. Segmented areas were evaluated with the area overlap measure. Differences were dependent upon the characteristics of the mass margins. Boundary moments presented large percentage differences. Pearson correlation analysis showed statistically significant correlations between shape-based descriptors from both initial locations. In conclusion, boundary moments of digital mass lesions are sensitive to the placement of initial level set contours while shape-based descriptors such as Fourier descriptors, shape convexity, and shape rectangularity exhibit a certain degree of robustness to changes in the location of the initial level set contours for both segmentation algorithms.