STEP: Spatiotemporal enhancement pattern for MR-based breast tumor diagnosis

Yuanjie Zheng, Sarah Englander, Sajjad Baloch, Evangelia I. Zacharaki, Yong Fan, Mitchell D. Schnall, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


The authors propose a spatiotemporal enhancement pattern (STEP) for comprehensive characterization of breast tumors in contrast-enhanced MR images. By viewing serial contrast-enhanced MR images as a single spatiotemporal image, they formulate the STEP as a combination of (1) dynamic enhancement and architectural features of a tumor, and (2) the spatial variations of pixelwise temporal enhancements. Although the latter has been widely used by radiologists for diagnostic purposes, it has rarely been employed for computer-aided diagnosis. This article presents two major contributions. First, the STEP features are introduced to capture temporal enhancement and its spatial variations. This is essentially carried out through the Fourier transformation and pharmacokinetic modeling of various temporal enhancement features, followed by the calculation of moment invariants and Gabor texture features. Second, for effectively extracting the STEP features from tumors, we develop a graph-cut based segmentation algorithm that aims at refining coarse manual segmentations of tumors. The STEP features are assessed through their diagnostic performance for differentiating between benign and malignant tumors using a linear classifier (along with a simple ranking-based feature selection) in a leave-one-out cross-validation setting. The experimental results for the proposed features exhibit superior performance, when compared to the existing approaches, with the area under the ROC curve approaching 0.97.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3192-3204
Number of pages13
JournalMedical physics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support of this work through National Cancer Institute grant 1R21CA140841.


  • Breast tumor diagnosis
  • Classification
  • Dynamic contrast enhancement
  • Feature extraction
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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