Application of morphological bit planes in retinal blood vessel extraction

Fraz, M. M, Basit, A and Barman, S. (2013) Application of morphological bit planes in retinal blood vessel extraction. Journal of Digital Imaging, 26(2), pp. 274-286. ISSN (print) 0897-1889


The appearance of the retinal blood vessels is an important diagnostic indicator of various clinical disorders of the eye and the body. Retinal blood vessels have been shown to provide evidence in terms of change in diameter, branching angles, or tortuosity, as a result of ophthalmic disease. This paper reports the development for an automated method for segmentation of blood vessels in retinal images. A unique combination of methods for retinal blood vessel skeleton detection and multidirectional morphological bit plane slicing is presented to extract the blood vessels from the color retinal images. The skeleton of main vessels is extracted by the application of directional differential operators and then evaluation of combination of derivative signs and average derivative values. Mathematical morphology has been materialized as a proficient technique for quantifying the retinal vasculature in ocular fundus images. A multidirectional top-hat operator with rotating structuring elements is used to emphasize the vessels in a particular direction, and information is extracted using bit plane slicing. An iterative region growing method is applied to integrate the main skeleton and the images resulting from bit plane slicing of vessel direction-dependent morphological filters. The approach is tested on two publicly available databases DRIVE and STARE. Average accuracy achieved by the proposed method is 0.9423 for both the databases with significant values of sensitivity and specificity also; the algorithm outperforms the second human observer in terms of precision of segmented vessel tree.

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