This work introduces and evaluates an automated intra-retinal segmentation method for spectral-domain optical coherence (SD-OCT) retinal images. While quantitative assessment of retinal features in SD-OCT data is important, manual segmentation is extremely time-consuming and subjective. We address challenges that have hindered prior automated methods, including poor performance with diseased retinas relative to healthy retinas, and data smoothing that obscures image features such as small retinal drusen. Our novel segmentation approach is based on the iterative adaptation of a weighted median process, wherein a three-dimensional weighting function is defined according to image intensity and gradient properties, and a set of smoothness constraints and pre-defined rules are considered. We compared the segmentation results for 9 segmented outlines associated with intra-retinal boundaries to those drawn by hand by two retinal specialists and to those produced by an independent state-of-the-art automated software tool in a set of 42 clinical images (from 14 patients). These images were obtained with a Zeiss Cirrus SD-OCT system, including healthy, early or intermediate AMD, and advanced AMD eyes. As a qualitative evaluation of accuracy, a highly experienced third independent reader blindly rated the quality of the outlines produced by each method. The accuracy and image detail of our method was superior in healthy and early or intermediate AMD eyes (98.15% and 97.78% of results not needing substantial editing) to the automated method we compared against. While the performance was not as good in advanced AMD (68.89%), it was still better than the manual outlines or the comparison method (which failed in such cases). We also tested our method's performance on images acquired with a different SD-OCT manufacturer, collected from a large publicly available data set (114 healthy and 255 AMD eyes), and compared the data quantitatively to reference standard markings of the internal limiting membrane and inner boundary of retinal pigment epithelium, producing a mean unsigned positioning error of 6.04 ± 7.83µm (mean under 2 pixels). Our automated method should be applicable to data from different OCT manufacturers and offers detailed layer segmentations in healthy and AMD eyes.
View details for PubMedID 28663874