A female pelvic bone shape model for air/bone separation in support of synthetic CT generation for radiation therapy
Separating bone from air in MR data is one of the major challenges in using MR images to derive synthetic CT. The problem is further complicated when the anatomic regions filled with air are altered across scans due to air mobility, for instance, in pelvic regions, thereby the air regions estimated using an ultrashort echo time (UTE) sequence are invalid in other image series acquired for multispectral classification. This study aims to develop and investigate a female pelvic bone shape model to identify low intensity regions in MRI where air is unlikely to be present in support of synthetic CT generation without UTE imaging. CT scans of 30 patients were collected for the study, 17 of them also have corresponding MR scans. The shape model was built from the CT dataset, where the reference image was aligned to each of the training images using B-spline deformable registration. Principal component analysis was performed on B-spline coefficients for a compact model where shape variance was described by linear combination of principal modes. The model was applied to identify pelvic bone in MR images by deforming the corresponding MR data of the reference image to target MR images, where the search space of the deformation process was constrained within the subspace spanned by principal modes. The local minima in the search space were removed effectively by the shape model, thus supporting an efficient binary search for the optimal solution. We evaluated the model by its efficacy in identifying bone voxels and excluding air regions. The model was tested across the 17 patients that have corresponding MR scans using a leave-one-out cross validation. A simple model using the first leading principal mode only was found to achieve reasonable accuracy, where an averaged 87% of bone voxels were correctly identified. Finally dilation of the optimally fit bone mask by 5 mm was found to cover 96% of bone voxels while minimally impacting the overlap with air (below 0.4%).