Automatic ROI Placement in the Upper Trapezius Muscle in B-mode Ultrasound Images
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Research involving B-mode ultrasound imaging often requires user defined regions of interest (ROIs) for analysis, traditionally drawn/selected by a trained operator. This manual process is incredibly time consuming and subjective. Here, we propose a fast and simple method of detecting the average location of aponeurosis layers in ultrasound images of the upper trapezius to place a rectangular ROI for quantitative image analysis. A total of 56 B-mode ultrasound images were analyzed, where rectangular ROIs were manually placed in the skeletal muscle by two trained operators. Interoperator agreement was determined between the ROI border locations using intercorrelation coefficient (ICC). Next, our automatic algorithm was applied (image thresholding, binary masking, and pixel intensity peak detection), estimating the mean position of both aponeurosis layers for rectangular ROI placement. The automatic estimation method was compared with the manual (visual) method by various statistics ( t test, linear correlation, Bland-Altman plot). The performance was also evaluated under additive noise conditions (Speckle). Finally, agreement of the overlapping ROI area between the manual and automatic methods was also computed. Performance of the automatic method compared with manual placement was excellent for both the superficial and deep ROI borders, performing consistently even with additive noise (error <0.674 ± 1.69 mm). Manual measurements indicated excellent consensus (ICC = 0.902) between operators. The overlapping area between the manual and automatic measurements demonstrated good agreement (90.65 ± 11.3%). With constraints, our method is robust even under large levels of noise addition making the automatic algorithm an acceptable replacement for manual ROI placement in the upper trapezius.
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