Spatial normalization of human back images for dermatological studies

Mirzaalian H, Lee TK, Hamarneh G

IEEE J Biomed Health Inform 2014 Jul;18(4):1494-501

PMID: 25014946


A large number of pigmented skin lesions (PSLs) are a strong predictor of malignant melanoma. Many dermatologists advocate total body photography for high-risk patients because detecting new-appearing, disappearing, and changing PSL is important for early detection of the disease. However, manual inspection and matching of PSL is a subjective, tedious, and error-prone task. A computer program for tracking the corresponding PSL will greatly improve the matching process. In this paper, we describe the construction of the first human back template (atlas), which is used to facilitate spatial normalization of the PSL during the matching process. Four pairs of anatomically meaningful landmarks (neck, shoulder, armpit, and hip points) are used as reference points on the back image. Using the landmarks, a grid with longitudes and latitudes is constructed and overlaid on each subject-specific back image. To perform spatial normalization, the grid is registered into the back template, a unit-square rectilinear grid. To demonstrate the benefits of using the back template, we apply several state-of-the-art point-matching algorithms on 56 pairs of real dermatological images and show that utilizing spatially normalized coordinates improves the PSL matching accuracies.