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Journal of Digital Imaging





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Three dimensional (3D) manual segmentation of the prostate on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a laborious and time-consuming task that is subject to inter-observer variability. In this study, we developed a fully automatic segmentation algorithm for T2-weighted endorectal prostate MRI and evaluated its accuracy within different regions of interest using a set of complementary error metrics. Our dataset contained 42 T2-weighted endorectal MRI from prostate cancer patients. The prostate was manually segmented by one observer on all of the images and by two other observers on a subset of 10 images. The algorithm first coarsely localizes the prostate in the image using a template matching technique. Then, it defines the prostate surface using learned shape and appearance information from a set of training images. To evaluate the algorithm, we assessed the error metric values in the context of measured inter-observer variability and compared performance to that of our previously published semi-automatic approach. The automatic algorithm needed an average execution time of ∼60 s to segment the prostate in 3D. When compared to a single-observer reference standard, the automatic algorithm has an average mean absolute distance of 2.8 mm, Dice similarity coefficient of 82%, recall of 82%, precision of 84%, and volume difference of 0.5 cm in the mid-gland. Concordant with other studies, accuracy was highest in the mid-gland and lower in the apex and base. Loss of accuracy with respect to the semi-automatic algorithm was less than the measured inter-observer variability in manual segmentation for the same task. 3