A tetrahedron-based heat flux signature for cortical thickness morphometry analysis

Yonghui Fan, Gang Wang, Natasha Lepore, Yalin Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


Cortical thickness analysis of brain magnetic resonance images is an important technique in neuroimaging research. There are two main computational paradigms, namely voxel-based and surface-based methods. Recently, a tetrahedron-based volumetric morphometry (TBVM) approach involving proper discretization methods was proposed. The multi-scale and physics-based geometric features generated through such methods may yield stronger statistical power. However, several challenges, such as the lack of well-defined thickness statistics and the difficulty in filling tetrahedrons into the thin and curvy cortex structure, impede the broad application of TBVM. In this paper, we present a universal cortical thickness morphometry analysis approach called tetrahedron-based Heat Flux Signature (tHFS) to address these challenges. We define the tetrahedron-based weak form heat equation and Laplace-Beltrami eigen decomposition and give an explicit FEM-based discretization formulation to compute the tHFS. We further show a tHFS metric space with which cortical morphometric distances can be directly visualized. Additionally, we optimize the cortical tetrahedral mesh generation pipeline and fill dense high-quality tetrahedra in the grey matters without sacrificing data integrity. Compared with existing cortical thickness analysis approaches, our experimental results of distinguishing among Alzheimer’s disease (AD), cognitively normal (CN) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) subjects shows that tHFS yields a more accurate representation of cortical thickness morphometry. The tHFS metric experiment provides a more vivid visualization of tHFS’s power in separating different clinical groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention – MICCAI 2018 - 21st International Conference, 2018, Proceedings
EditorsAlejandro F. Frangi, Christos Davatzikos, Gabor Fichtinger, Carlos Alberola-López, Julia A. Schnabel
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9783030009304
StatePublished - 2018
Event21st International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention, MICCAI 2018 - Granada, Spain
Duration: Sep 16 2018Sep 20 2018

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11072 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other21st International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention, MICCAI 2018


  • Cortical thickness
  • Tetrahedron-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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