Three-dimensional path planning for virtual bronchoscopy

A. P. Kiraly, J. P. Helferty, E. A. Hoffman, G. McLennan, W. E. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Multidetector computed-tomography (MDCT) scanners provide large high-resolution three-dimensional (3-D) images of the chest. MDCT scanning, when used in tandem with bronchoscopy, provides a state-of-the-art approach for lung-cancer assessment. We have been building and validating a lung-cancer assessment system, which enables virtual-bronchoscopic 3-D MDCT image analysis and follow-on image-guided bronchoscopy. A suitable path planning method is needed, however, for using this system. We describe a rapid, robust method for computing a set of 3-D airway-tree paths from MDCT images. The method first defines the skeleton of a given segmented 3-D chest image and then performs a multistage refinement of the skeleton to arrive at a final tree structure. The tree consists of a series of paths and branch structural data, suitable for quantitative airway analysis and smooth virtual navigation. A comparison of the method to a previously devised path-planning approach, using a set of human MDCT images, illustrates the efficacy of the method. Results are also presented for human lung-cancer assessment and the guidance of bronchoscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1379
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE transactions on medical imaging
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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