Segmentation and tracking in echocardiographic sequences: Active contours guided by optical flow estimates

Ivana Mikic*, Slawomir Krucinski, James D. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


This paper presents a method for segmentation and tracking of cardiac structures in ultrasound image sequences. The developed algorithm is based on the active contour framework. This approach requires initial placement of the contour close to the desired position in the image, usually an object outline. Best contour shape and position are then calculated, assuming that at this configuration a global energy function, associated with a contour, attains its minimum. Active contours can be used for tracking by selecting a solution from a previous frame as an initial position in a present frame. Such an approach, however, fails for large displacements of the object of interest. This paper presents a technique that incorporates the information on pixel velocities (optical flow) into the estimate of initial contour to enable tracking of fast-moving objects. The algorithm was tested on several ultrasound image sequences, each covering one complete cardiac cycle. The contour successfully tracked boundaries of mitral valve leaflets, aortic root and endocardial borders of the left ventricle. The algorithm-generated outlines were compared against manual tracings by expert physicians. The automated method resulted in contours that were within the boundaries of intraobserver variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-284
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Active contours
  • Boundary detection
  • Optical flow
  • Snakes
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Segmentation and tracking in echocardiographic sequences: Active contours guided by optical flow estimates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this