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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 693484, 9 pages
Research Article

Segmentation and Tracking of Lymphocytes Based on Modified Active Contour Models in Phase Contrast Microscopy Images

1Institute of Signal and Image Processing, School of Information and Electronics, Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT), 5 South Zhongguancun Street, Haidian District, Beijing 100081, China
2College of Electronics and Information Engineering, Hebei University, Baoding, China
3Key Laboratory of Digital Medical Engineering of Hebei Province, Baoding, China

Received 8 August 2014; Accepted 3 January 2015

Academic Editor: Shahram Shirani

Copyright © 2015 Yali Huang and Zhiwen Liu. 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.


The paper proposes an improved active contour model for segmenting and tracking accurate boundaries of the single lymphocyte in phase-contrast microscopic images. Active contour models have been widely used in object segmentation and tracking. However, current external-force-inspired methods are weak at handling low-contrast edges and suffer from initialization sensitivity. In order to segment low-contrast boundaries, we combine the region information of the object, extracted by morphology gray-scale reconstruction, and the edge information, extracted by the Laplacian of Gaussian filter, to obtain an improved feature map to compute the external force field for the evolution of active contours. To alleviate initial location sensitivity, we set the initial contour close to the real boundaries by performing morphological image processing. The proposed method was tested on live lymphocyte images acquired through the phase-contrast microscope from the blood samples of mice, and comparative experimental results showed the advantages of the proposed method in terms of the accuracy and the speed. Tracking experiments showed that the proposed method can accurately segment and track lymphocyte boundaries in microscopic images over time even in the presence of low-contrast edges, which will provide a good prerequisite for the quantitative analysis of lymphocyte morphology and motility.