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A New Retinal Vessel Segmentation Me t ho d Usi ng Preprocessed
Gabor and Local Binary Patterns




Abstract: A new retinal vascular tissue segmentation algorithm,
which utilizes Gabor wavelet and local binary patterns, is
introduced. It would be shown that how a simple pre-
processing step would increase the accuracy of algorithm.
Different features have been proposed for retinal vessel
detection. One of the most famous features adapted is Gabor
wavelet. Thanks to multi-resolution property of Gabor,
combination of scales can be used to extract features. However,
similar features in feature vector would increase the inter-
correlation and may lead to poor result. Also, Local Binary
Pattern (LBP) is applied. LBP is a powerful feature for texture
analysis.
A wise pre-processing strategy is applied to image with regard
to feature extraction technique. Contrary to previous methods
where a simple pre-processing scheme applied for all feature
extraction methods, here each feature extraction will utilize its
own suitable pre- processing. It is showed that this enhances the
result of segmentation.
The proposed method has a low dimension feature vector
having only four features. The pre-processing step enhances
the results in comparison to a previous method in term of
area under the ROC curve The computational results of
simulations show the high performance of the proposed
method in term of accuracy and speed.

Keywords: Vessel segmentation, Retina, Gabor filter,
Local Binary Pattern.
1. Introduction
Retinal image analysis has been center of attention for
years. Studying retinal tissues is used in diagnosis of a
wide range of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension,
arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, stroke and
retinopathy of prematurity [1]. In fact, detection of
vascular tissues is of great value for physicians. It is
also applicable to biometric applications [2]. In recent
decades, the advent of the computer as a medical
diagnosis assistant made computer assisted vessel
detection popular. Several methods have already been
developed for retinal vessel detection. We can categorize
these methods into three categories: kernel-based,
classifier-based and tracking-based [3]. In kernel-based
approaches, a kernel response is calculated over image.
Afterward, a segmentation technique is applied to
separate vascular and non-vascular tissues. Matched filter
based methods are exemplar of these techniques [4], [5],
[6].
Classifier-based methods utilize a classifier over a
large number of features. Feature extraction is often
done using one or two kernel from the kernel-based
approaches. Staal et al. [7] and Soares et al. [1] provide
two famous classifier-based methods.
Tracking-based approaches use a model to follow the
vessel. They mostly start from one or more points and
keep track of vessels by a model, several methods have
been proposed [8], [9]. However, these methods are
prune to ambiguity due to branches and junctions.
Many tried to improve the performance of vessel
detection by combining techniques from the above
categories [3]. On the other hand, there were endeavors
to enhance results using pre-processing and/or post-
processing techniques. Leandro et al. applied
morphological operators to enhance the kernel response
in a post-processing phase [10].
Wu et al. [4] apply Adaptive Histogram Equalization
(AHE) in order to enhance the contrast of retinal images
in a pre-processing step. Feng et al. [11] utilize contourlet
in preference to AHE. The same approach is adapted by
Rezatofighi et al. [12] using an adaptive neuro-fuzzy
inference system as classifier.
The aforementioned method enhances overall
properties of image. However, some people focused on
obtaining enhanced results using wiser techniques. Zhang
et al. [13] tried to enhance the response of Gabor kernel
by tuning its parameters knowing that image of interest
consists of small vessels. Al- Rawi et al. [5] proposed a
tuning scheme to improve Gaussian kernel response.
However, it is also possible to incorporate both
approaches to provide a better segmentation [14].
In case of classifier-based approaches one aspect that
can help enhancement of segmentation is feature
selection, as judicious selection of features will improve
classification results. However, there are only a few
publication feature selection methods in this field.
M. Shahram Moin*, Hamed Rezazadegan Tavakoli**, Ali Broumandnia***
*IEEE Senior Member, Islamic Azad University, Qazvin Branch, moin@qiau.ac.ir
**IEEE Student Member, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, hrtavakoli@srbiau.ac.ir
***Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch, broumandnia@azad.ac.ir
978-1-4244-9708-9/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE

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Examples of such a studies could be find in [7], [15],
[16]. Staal et al. applied a sequential forward feature
selection scheme [7]. Lupas¸cu et al. studied different
greedy heuristics in order to select the best possible
feature set [15]. Tavakoli et al. applied a hierarchical
feature selection scheme to select the best feature set
[16].
It is also possible to focus both on enhancement and
classification to improve segmentation results, e.g.
Farzin et al. applied both pre-processing and post
processing as well as a wise feature matching for
classification [2].
In this paper, we apply a wise pre-processing method
based on feature extraction characteristic. Fig. 1 shows
the proposed mechanism for vessel detection. It is
showed that the proposed method increases the area
under the ROC. In this paper, also a speed assessment of
methods is done which shows the Introduced method is a
fast technique.


Fig. 1. Vessel Detection Framework

The rest of this paper is organized as follows. In
section 2, pre-processing, feature extraction, and
selection are studied, (including Gabor kernel and Local
Binary Pattern). In section3, classification part of
method is discussed. It is followed by Experiments in
section 4. Section 5 is the conclusion.
2. Features
In this section feature extraction procedure is
explained. At first examining Gabor and Local Binary
Pattern (LBP) feature extraction methods is studied. As,
our pre-processing is feature dependant it will be
presented after feature extraction. Finally, feature
selection is studied.
2.1 Feature Extraction
2.1.1 Gabor Feature Extraction
Gabor kernel is a linear filter whose impulse response
is defined by a harmonic function multiplied by a
Gaussian function. Thus, there exist different
definitions for Gabor kernel in the literature.
There is a direct relationship between Gabor kernel
and Gabor wavelet. In fact, it is possible to study an
image both in spatial space and wavelet space. However,
we preferred the latter. So, the Soares et al. [1] approach
was adapted in order to extract Gabor features. The two-
dimensional Gabor wavelet is defined as

G
¢ (x) = exp( x k j
0
) exp(
2
2
1
Ax ÷ ) (1)

where 1 ÷ = j 1 ] , 1 , [ ,
2 / 1
> =
÷
c c diag A is a 2 × 2
matrix defining the angular distance in any desired
direction, and k
0
is the frequency.
The continues wavelet transform of an image, T
ψ
(b,
θ, a), is defined in terms of scalar product of input
image f with the transformed wavelet. It can be
implemented easily using fast Fourier transform as
follows:

2 / 1
) , , (
÷
+
= C a b T u a
}
) exp( jkb ψ
ˆ

(a
k
u )f
ˆ
(k)
2
k
d (2)

where b is displacement vector, θ is direction, a is scale,
C
ψ
denotes normalizing constant, f
ˆ
defines Fourier
transform of image, and ψ
ˆ
is the Fourier transform of
wavelet’s complex conjugate.
Setting c = 4 and k
0
= [0, 3], for each pixel the
maximum wavelet r esponse over θ spa nni ng
from
°
0 to
°
170 was computed. The same procedure was
repeated for different scales. Fig. 2 shows maximum
response for different Gabor wavelets.


(a) (b)


(c) (d)
Fig. 2. Maximum Gabor response over 0

to 170

for different
scales, (a) a = 2, (b) a = 3, (c) a = 4, (d) a = 5.
2.1.2 LBP Feature Extraction
The LBP operator was first introduced as a
complementary measure for local image contrast [17]. It
is a fast and easy to compute operator. LBP is a powerful
means of texture analysis [18]. The Original operator

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calculates the central pixel value of a 3×3-neighborhood
by summing up the thresholded values of neighbourhood
weighted by powers of two.
Ojala et al. [18] extend the operator to use different
neighbourhoods. The extended operator is defined by
Equation (3).
LBP
P,R
(x, y) =
¿
÷
=
1
0
P
n
s(f (x, y) − f (x
n
, y
n
))2
n
. (3)
where,
( )
¹
´
¦
<
>
=
0 , 0
0 , 1
x
x
x s


and P represents the number of sampling pixels, R is
the radius of neighbourhood, and f (x, y) denotes pixel
(x, y) of image f .
The operator can easily be adapted to be rotation
invariant by a bitwise right shift. It is denoted by
ri
R P
LBP
,
.
This property can be further improved by finer
quantization of angular space using uniform patterns
[18]. A uniform pattern is a pattern that has at most
two 0/1 transitions in the pattern. A uniform rotation
invariant pattern is defined by
2
,
riu
R P
LBP .
As LBP is rotation and gradient invariant and
computationally efficient, it has became the center of
attention in recent years. LBP is used in many diverse
applications such as face analysis [19], [20], paper
characterization [21], wood inspection [17] and texture
analysis [18].
Due to blood vessel properties, a rotation invariant
feature extractor is required to detect vessels. Hence,
Rotation invariant LBP is selected for vessel
segmentation. In this paper, we utilize
2
1 , 8
riu
LBP ,
2
2 , 8
riu
LBP
and
2
2 , 16
riu
LBP . Fig. 3 represents LBP response.

























Fig3. Sample LBP responses, (a)
2
1 , 8
riu
LBP , (b)
2
2 , 8
riu
LBP ,(c)
2
2 , 16
riu
LBP .
2.2 Pre-processing
Each feature extraction has its own characteristic. In
fact, the nature of input image affects the result of
feature extraction. Here, based on this fact, we propose
different pre-processing steps for each of our feature
extraction techniques.
It can be construed from Fig. 3 that LBP is a fine
feature extraction technique. In fact, it is so sensitive to
small change of luminance and contrast in an image.
So a small artifact can bias the feature extraction
greatly. In order to lessen this effect, the input image is
decomposed using Symlets wavelets into different levels
and the approximation of each level is selected as the
input to LBP feature extraction. Because, we are using
the approximation part of wavelet, it is as if we
smoothed the input image prior to extracting features.
Contrary to LBP, Gabor is a coarse feature extraction
utility. It is quiet evident by comparing Fig. 2 and
Fig. 3. In fact, its response over a smoothed image
would not be as good as expected. So, an adaptive
contrast enhancement [22] is applied over the image
before calculating Gabor response.
In fact, as shown in Fig. 1 each feature extraction
has its own suitable pre-processing block.
2.3 Feature Selection
Feature selection is referred to identifying the most
characterizing features of observed data. In many
applications, this results in classification error reduction.
In fact, it is wise to analyze the extracted features before
providing them to the classifier.
In case of retinal vessel segmentation, Staal et al. [7]
applied the sequential scheme provided in [23] to select
proper features. Lupas¸cu [15] utilized five different
feature selection heuristics, in order to find the best
heuristic and feature sets. In this paper we applied
method of [16] to select the features. It is a
hierarchical scheme based on maximizing relevance
and minimizing redundancy [24].
3. Classification
A supervised classification method, i. e. Gaussian
Mixture Model (GMM) classifier is used. GMM is a
parametric method in which likelihood is defined by
linear combination of Gaussian functions [25].
In Bayesian classification the Bayes decision rule is
applied for decision making after training the classifier.
It states that class C
i
is winner if and only if
multiplication of likelihood and prior probability of C
i
is dominant, i.e.

¦
¹
¦
´
¦
>
.
2

);
2
( )
2
( )
1
( )
1
(
1

otherwise C Decide
C P C x p C P C x p if C Decide
(4)

4. Experiments

We tested proposed method on the DRIVE
1

database.
It consists of training and test sets, each containing
twenty images. The database has manually segmented
and labeled images that can be used as benchmark.
The inverted green channel of image was taken to be
processed. Gabor response was generated for a = 2, 3,

1


http://www.isi.uu.nl/Research.Databases/DRIVE/download.php

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4, 5. The feature vector consisted of four Gabor
responses,
2
1 , 8
riu
LBP ,
2
2 , 8
riu
LBP ,
2
2 , 16
riu
LBP and
Inverted
Green Channel(IGC).

A normal transformation is applied to each image’s
feature, and one million samples were selected as training
data. The classifier was trained using twenty Gaussian
kernels for vessels and non-vessels (k =10 for vessels
and k = 10 for non-vessels, k is the number of
Gaussians).
We used an Intel 2.4GHz PC with 1GB of memory.
The code implemented and ran using Matlab R2008a,
on a windows XP.
In order to assess the features to be selected, we
applied accuracy (ACC). It is calculated by dividing the
number of correct classified samples by number of total
samples. Accuracy of each feature was measured
individually which is reported in table I. As shown,
Gabor with scale 3 is the dominant feature.











The selected feature vector consists of inverted green
channel, Gabor (a = 2, 3) and
2
1 , 8
riu
LBP . In order to
show the superiority of this feature set, a comparison is
made. Table II shows this.
In order to pre-process the image for LBP feature
extraction, we decomposed the image using Symlet
family (Sym-4). In order to find the best level of
decomposition we tested different levels of
decomposition. Fig. 4 shows the ROC curve obtained by
this experiment. As shown second level of
decomposition is superior to the others.
Finally, we provide a comparative study of different
retinal vessel detection methods by providing the
accuracy and area under the ROC (A
z
) of different
published methods. Table. III provides this information.
The ROC curves are provided in Fig. 6
Considering the number of features, the proposed
method uses only 4 features, achieving accuracy of
0.9447, which is acceptable in comparison to Staal et
al. [7] with 18 features and accuracy of 0.9442. It means
the two methods have almost identical performance. In
fact, our method’s strength is that it only uses 4 features.
It is also better than method of [16] in terms of accuracy
and A
z
.
Some segmentation examples are shown in Fig. 5.
Obviously, it is really hard to distinguish between Soares
et al. [1] segmentation and that of ours.
To summarize, the main advantage of proposed
method is that it has almost identical performance with
Staal et al. [7], using only four features rather eighteen
features. Also, in comparison to Soares et al. [1], it is
faster (Table. IV).
TABLEII
AC C U R AC Y E VA L UAT I O N O F S E L E C T E D F E AT U R E S . ACC I S
AC C U R AC Y, TPR I S T RU E P O S I T I V E R E S P O N S E A N D FPR I S FA L S E
POSITIVE RESPONSE TH E Y A R E C A L C U L AT E D AT T H R E S H O L D L E V EL
O F lt 0.5.




































5. Conclusion
In this paper, we presented application of Gabor and
local binary pattern analysis for retinal vessel
segmentation. We also presented the idea of feature-
extraction-dependant image pre- processing.
As shown in the experiments, performance achieved is
acceptable considering the accuracy of similar methods.
Proposed method is also faster in feature extraction
phase. Although t he met hod provides accept abl e
results, there are other aspects that we did not
mentioned in this work. Our future work’s focus
would be on classification where a promising result is
expected.

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Fig. 5. Segmentation results using different features. (a) Benchmark, (b) Segmentation using proposed method, (c) Segmentation using Soares et
al. [1], (d) Segmentation using Tavakoli et al. [16].






















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