Associating approximate paths and temporal sequences of noisy detections: Application to the recovery of spatio-temporal cancer cell trajectories.

Research paper by Matthias M Dorfer, Tomáš T Kazmar, Matěj M Šmíd, Sanchit S Sing, Julia J Kneißl, Simone S Keller, Olivier O Debeir, Birgit B Luber, Julian J Mattes

Indexed on: 20 May '15Published on: 20 May '15Published in: Medical Image Analysis


In this paper we address the problem of recovering spatio-temporal trajectories of cancer cells in phase contrast video-microscopy where the user provides the paths on which the cells are moving. The paths are purely spatial, without temporal information. To recover the temporal information associated to a given path we propose an approach based on automatic cell detection and on a graph-based shortest path search. The nodes in the graph consist of the projections of the cell detections onto the geometrical cell path. The edges relate nodes which correspond to different frames of the sequence and potentially to the same cell and trajectory. In this directed graph we search for the shortest path and use it to define a temporal parametrization of the corresponding geometrical cell path. An evaluation based on 286 paths of 7 phase contrast microscopy videos shows that our algorithm allows to recover 92% of trajectory points with respect to the associated ground truth. We compare our method with a state-of-the-art algorithm for semi-automated cell tracking in phase contrast microscopy which requires interactively placed starting points for the cells to track. The comparison shows that supporting geometrical paths in combination with our algorithm allow us to obtain more reliable cell trajectories.