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International Journal of Biomedical Imaging
Volume 2006, Article ID 94025, 8 pages

Virtual Contrast for Coronary Vessels Based on Level Set Generated Subvoxel Accurate Centerlines

1Diagnostic Radiology Department, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1182, USA
2Division of Medical and Biological Informatics, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg 69120, Germany
3National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-2281, USA

Received 31 January 2006; Revised 30 May 2006; Accepted 6 June 2006

Copyright © 2006 Ingmar Bitter et al. 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.


We present a tool for tracking coronary vessels in MRI scans of the human heart to aid in the screening of heart diseases. The vessels are identified through a single click inside each vessel present in a standard orthogonal view. The vessel identification results from a series of computational steps including eigenvalue analysis of the Hessian of the MRI image followed by a level set-based extraction of the vessel centerline. All identified vessels are highlighted using a virtual contrast agent and displayed simultaneously in a spherical curved reformation view. In cases of over segmentation, the vessel traces can be shortened by a click on each vessel end point. Intermediate analysis results of the vessel computation steps can be displayed as well. We successfully validated the tool on 40 MRI scans demonstrating accuracy and significant time savings over manual vessel tracing.