Split-and-merge segmentation of magnetic resonance medical images: performance evaluation and extension to three dimensions

I N Manousakas, P E Undrill, G. G. Cameron, T W Redpath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Intensity- or edge-based methods of segmentation are often insufficiently robust to be applied to images containing complex anatomical objects, such as those seen in high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging systems. Split-and-merge techniques attempt to overcome these difficulties by using homogeneity measures. Simple modifications to the basic 2D split-and-merge method, based on the principles of simulated annealing and controlled boundary elimination, are developed and discussed. Simulated annealing reduced the number of regions by 22% with a further reduction of 21% achieved through boundary elimination. Smoother regional boundaries are also produced. These methods are extended to true 3D and quantitatively compared with their 2D counterparts. The main advantage of 3D methods is that they produce segmented volumes by directly preserving the connectivity between slices, whereas in 2D, segments have to be grouped together in a post-split-and-merge process. Finally, the properties of the 3D approach are demonstrated by the automatic quantitation of brain ventricle volume, producing estimates to within 7% of validated manual methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-412
Number of pages20
JournalComputers and Biomedical Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


  • Algorithms
  • Brain/anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Ventricles/anatomy & histology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted/methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Software


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