A Kernel-based Approach to Diffusion Tensor and Fiber Clustering in the Human Skeletal Muscle

Abstract : In this report, we present a kernel-based approach to the clustering of diffusion tensors in images of the human skeletal muscle. Based on the physical intuition of tensors as a means to represent the uncertainty of the position of water protons in the tissues, we propose a Mercer (i.e. positive definite) kernel over the tensor space where both spatial and diffusion information are taken into account. This kernel highlights implicitly the connectivity along fiber tracts. We show that using this kernel in a kernel-PCA setting compounded with a landmark-Isomap embedding and k-means clustering provides a tractable framework for tensor clustering. We extend this kernel to deal with fiber tracts as input using the multi-instance kernel by considering the fiber as set of tensors centered in the sampled points of the tract. The obtained kernel reflects not only interactions between points along fiber tracts, but also the interactions between diffusion tensors. We give an interpretation of the obtained kernel as a comparison of soft fiber representations and show that it amounts to a generalization of the Gaussian kernel Correlation. As in the tensor case, we use the kernel-PCA setting and k-means for grouping of fiber tracts. This unsupervised method is further extended by way of an atlas-based registration of diffusion-free images, followed by a classification of fibers based on non-linear kernel Support Vector Machines (SVMs) and kernel diffusion. The experimental results on a dataset of diffusion tensor images of the calf muscle of 25 patients (of which 5 affected by myopathies, i.e. neuromuscular diseases) show the potential of our method in segmenting the calf in anatomically relevant regions both at the tensor and fiber level.
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[Research Report] RR-6686, INRIA. 2008
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Radhouène Neji, Jean-François Deux, Gilles Fleury, Mezri Maatouk, Georg Langs, et al.. A Kernel-based Approach to Diffusion Tensor and Fiber Clustering in the Human Skeletal Muscle. [Research Report] RR-6686, INRIA. 2008. 〈inria-00340613v2〉

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