Structure similarity-guided image binarization for automatic segmentation of epidermis surface microstructure images.

Research paper by Y Y Zou, B B Lei, F F Dong, G G Xu, S S Sun, P P Xia

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Journal of Microscopy


Partitioning epidermis surface microstructure (ESM) images into skin ridge and skin furrow regions is an important preprocessing step before quantitative analyses on ESM images. Binarization segmentation is a potential technique for partitioning ESM images because of its computational simplicity and ease of implementation. However, even for some state-of-the-art binarization methods, it remains a challenge to automatically segment ESM images, because the grey-level histograms of ESM images have no obvious external features to guide automatic assessment of appropriate thresholds. Inspired by human visual perceptual functions of structural feature extraction and comparison, we propose a structure similarity-guided image binarization method. The proposed method seeks for the binary image that best approximates the input ESM image in terms of structural features. The proposed method is validated by comparing it with two recently developed automatic binarization techniques as well as a manual binarization method on 20 synthetic noisy images and 30 ESM images. The experimental results show: (1) the proposed method possesses self-adaption ability to cope with different images with same grey-level histogram; (2) compared to two automatic binarization techniques, the proposed method significantly improves average accuracy in segmenting ESM images with an acceptable decrease in computational efficiency; (3) and the proposed method is applicable for segmenting practical EMS images. (Matlab code of the proposed method can be obtained by contacting with the corresponding author.).