Automatic segmentation of the facial nerve and chorda tympani using image registration and statistical priors
In cochlear implant surgery, an electrode array is permanently implanted in the cochlea to stimulate the auditory nerve and allow deaf people to hear. A minimally invasive surgical technique has recently been proposed--percutaneous cochlear access--in which a single hole is drilled from the skull surface to the cochlea. For the method to be feasible, a safe and effective drilling trajectory must be determined using a pre-operative CT. Segmentation of the structures of the ear would improve trajectory planning safety and efficiency and enable the possibility of automated planning. Two important structures of the ear, the facial nerve and chorda tympani, present difficulties in intensity based segmentation due to their diameter (as small as 1.0 and 0.4 mm) and adjacent inter-patient variable structures of similar intensity in CT imagery. A multipart, model-based segmentation algorithm is presented in this paper that accomplishes automatic segmentation of the facial nerve and chorda tympani. Segmentation results are presented for 14 test ears and are compared to manually segmented surfaces. The results show that mean error in structure wall localization is 0.2 and 0.3 mm for the facial nerve and chorda, proving the method we propose is robust and accurate.
This paper was published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6914