Small Blob Detector Using Bi-Threshold Constrained Adaptive Scales

Yanzhe Xu, Teresa Wu, Jennifer R. Charlton, Fei Gao, Kevin M. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent advances in medical imaging technology bring great promises for medicine practices. Imaging biomarkers are discovered to inform disease diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment assessment. Detecting and segmenting objects from images are often the first steps in quantitative measurement of these biomarkers. The challenges of detecting objects in images, particularly small objects known as blobs, include low image resolution, image noise and overlap among the blobs. This research proposes a Bi-Threshold Constrained Adaptive Scale (BTCAS) blob detector to uncover the relationship between the U-Net threshold and the Difference of Gaussian (DoG) scale to derive a multi-threshold, multi-scale small blob detector. With lower and upper bounds on the probability thresholds from U-Net, two binarized maps of the distance are rendered between blob centers. Each blob is transformed to a DoG space with an adaptively identified local optimum scale. A Hessian convexity map is rendered using the adaptive scale, and the under-segmentation typical of the U-Net is resolved. To validate the performance of the proposed BTCAS, a 3D simulated dataset (n = 20) of blobs, a 3D MRI dataset of human kidneys and a 3D MRI dataset of mouse kidneys, are studied. BTCAS is compared against four state-of-the-art methods: HDoG, U-Net with standard thresholding, U-Net with optimal thresholding, and UH-DoG using precision, recall, F-score, Dice and IoU. We conclude that BTCAS statistically outperforms the compared detectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9301410
Pages (from-to)2654-2665
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Imaging biomarker
  • adaptive Scales
  • blob detection
  • deep learning
  • difference of gaussian (DoG)
  • hessian analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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