Discriminative generalized Hough transform for object localization in medical images
Purpose This paper proposes the discriminative generalized Hough transform (DGHT) as an efficient and reliable means for object localization in medical images. It is meant to give a deeper insight into the underlying theory and a comprehensive overview of the methodology and the scope of applications. Methods The DGHT combines the generalized Hough transform (GHT) with a discriminative training technique for the GHT models to obtain more efficient and robust localization results. To this end, the model points are equipped with individual weights, which are trained discriminatively with respect to a minimal localization error. Through this weighting, the models become more robust since the training focuses on common features of the target object over a set of training images. Unlike other weighting strategies, our training algorithm focuses on the error rate and allows for negative weights, which can be employed to encode rivaling structures into the model. The basic algorithm is presented here in conjunction with several extensions for fully automatic and faster processing. These include: (1) the automatic generation of models from training images and their iterative refinement, (2) the training of joint models for similar objects, and (3) a multi-level approach. Results The algorithm is tested successfully for the knee in long-leg radiographs (97.6 % success rate), the vertebrae in C-arm CT (95.5 % success rate), and the femoral head in whole-body MR (100 % success rate). In addition, it is compared to Hough forests (Gall et al. in IEEE Trans Pattern Anal Mach Intell 33(11):2188–2202, 2011) for the task of knee localization (97.8 % success rate). Conclusion The DGHT has proven to be a general procedure, which can be easily applied to various tasks with high success rates.