Algorithm-based method for detection of blood vessels in breast MRI for development of computer-aided diagnosis

Muqing Lin, Jeon Hor Chen, Ke Nie, Daniel Chang, Orhan Nalcioglu, Min Ying Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: To develop a computer-based algorithm for detecting blood vessels that appear in breast dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and to evaluate the improvement in reducing the number of vascular pixels that are labeled by computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) systems as being suspicious of malignancy. Materials and Methods: The analysis was performed in 34 cases. The algorithm applied a filter bank based on wavelet transform and the Hessian matrix to detect linear structures as blood vessels on a two-dimensional maximum intensity projection (MIP). The vessels running perpendicular to the MIP plane were then detected based on the connectivity of enhanced pixels above a threshold. The nonvessel enhancements were determined and excluded based on their morphological properties, including those showing scattered small segment enhancements or nodular or planar clusters. The detected vessels were first converted to a vasculature skeleton by thinning and subsequently compared to the vascular track manually drawn by a radiologist. Results: When evaluating the performance of the algorithm in identifying vascular tissue, the correct-detection rate refers to pixels identified by both the algorithm and radiologist, while the incorrect-detection rate refers to pixels identified by only the algorithm, and the missed-detection rate refers to pixels identified only by the radiologist. From 34 analyzed cases the median correct-detection rate was 85.6% (mean 84.9% ± 7.8%), the incorrect-detection rate was 13.1% (mean 15.1% ± 7.8%), and the missed-detection rate was 19.2% (mean 21.3% ± 12.8%). When detected vessels were excluded in the hot-spot color-coding of the CAD system, they could reduce the labeling of vascular vessels in 2.6%-68.6% of hotspot pixels (mean 16.6% ± 15.9%). Conclusion: The computer algorithm-based method can detect most large vessels and provide an effective means in reducing the labeling of vascular pixels as suspicious on a DCE-MRI CAD system. This algorithm may improve the workflow of radiologists using CAD for image display, but will be particularly useful for development of automated CAD that gives diagnostic impression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-824
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


  • Blood vessels detection
  • Breast MRI
  • Computer-aided diagnosis
  • Dynamic contrast enhancement
  • Hessian matrix
  • Wavelet transform


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