Background and Objective: Automated segmentation with high accuracy and speed is a prerequisite for FEA-based quantitative assessment with a large population. However, hip joint segmentation has remained challenging due to a narrow articular cartilage and thin cortical bone with a marked interindividual variance. To overcome this challenge, this paper proposes a fully automated segmentation method for a hip joint that uses the complementary characteristics between the thresholding technique and the watershed algorithm.
Methods: Using the golden section method and load path algorithm, the proposed method first determines the patient-specific optimal threshold value that enables reliably separating a femur from a pelvis while removing cortical and trabecular bone in the femur at the minimum. This provides regional information on the femur. The watershed algorithm is then used to obtain boundary information on the femur. The proximal femur can be extracted by merging the complementary information on a target image.
Results: For eight CT images, compared with the manual segmentation and other segmentation methods, the proposed method offers a high accuracy in terms of the dice overlap coefficient (97.24 +/- 0.44%) and average surface distance (0.36 +/- 0.07 mm) within a fast timeframe in terms of processing time per slice (1.25 +/- 0.27 s). The proposed method also delivers structural behavior which is close to that of the manual segmentation with a small mean of average relative errors of the risk factor (4.99%).
Conclusion: The segmentation results show that, without the aid of a prerequisite dataset and users' manual intervention, the proposed method can segment a hip joint as fast as the simplified Kang (SK)based automated segmentation, while maintaining the segmentation accuracy at a similar level of the snake-based semi-automated segmentation.