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International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887) Volume 12– No.

6, December 2010

Performance Analysis of Filters for Speckle Reduction in Medical Ultrasound Images
Department of Biomedical Instrumentation Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Avinashilingam University for Women,
Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India.

Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India.

Speckle is a random multiplicative noise which obscures the perception and extraction of fine details in ultrasound image and despeckling is necessary to improve the visual quality for better diagnoses. Preliminary treatment of images before segmentation and classification includes despeckling as one of the important steps. This paper aims at introducing the possible range of image speckle corrections available. The performances of different filters – Mean, Lee, Kuan, Frost, Median, Homomorphic, Speckle Reducing Anisotropic Diffusion(SRAD), Non Linear Coherent Diffusion(NCD) are compared on the basis of Peak Signal to Noise Ratio(PSNR), Signal to Noise Ratio(SNR), Root Mean Square Error(RMSE) ,Structure Similarity Index(SSIM), Image Quality Index(IMGQ) and Edge Preservation Factor(EPF).

of the techniques to improve the image quality and possibly the diagnostic potential of medical ultrasound imaging.

The speckle noise model may be approximated as multiplicative [6] and is given by

I i, j

R i, j u i, j
is the noisy image and

i, j R i, j

denotes the

I i, j

General Terms
Digital Image Processing

intensity of the image without speckle, u (t) and α (t) are the multiplicative and additive components of the speckle noise respectively. When applied to ultrasound images, only the multiplicative component u of the noise is considered, hence, (1) can be considerably simplified by disregarding the additive noise term. This leads to the following simplified model (2):

I t

R t u t


Speckle noise, ultrasound image, despeckling, anisotropic diffusion, despeckling filters.

Where t (i, j ) is the spatial coordinates of the current pixel. Based on this simple model many have proposed various speckle filtering methods and the most efficient filter methods are discussed in this paper.

Ultrasound imaging system is an important imaging modality in medical diagnoses. Features like noninvasive nature, low cost, portability, and real-time image formation capacity are making this diagnostic tool attractive. One of the major drawbacks of ultrasound images is the poor image quality due to speckle noise [3]. Ultrasound images are very difficult to diagnose because of the existence of speckle which hampers the perception and the extraction of fine details from the image. Only skilled radiologists can make an effective diagnosis and hence limiting its use in a wide medical network. Ultrasonic speckle is an interference effect caused by the scattering of the ultrasonic beam from microscopic tissues inhomogeneities [1]. This is comparable to the phenomena encountered in laser, microwave and radar imaging. The resulting granular pattern does not correspond to the actual tissue microstructure but it is the speckle pattern which tends to mask the presence of low-contrast lesions. Subsequently, this reduces the ability of a human observer to resolve fine details [12]. Hence, speckle suppression by means of digital image processing is one

The spatial domain filters for despeckling of ultrasound images can be categorized as linear and non linear filters

3.1 Linear filters
3.1.1 Mean filter
The mean filter also called averaging filter [5] replaces the value of every pixel in an image by the average of the gray levels in the neighborhood. It has the effect of smoothing and blurring the image and it is optimal filter for Gaussian noise. Since the speckle noise is multiplicative, the simple mean filter is not effective.

3.1.2 Adaptive mean filter
The adaptive mean filters have been proposed in order to reduce blurring in the smoothing process .They adapt to the properties of the image locally and remove speckles from the image. The local image statistics such as mean, variance and spatial correlation are used by these filters to effectively detect, preserve edges and


6. In the areas where edges exists KC I 2 becomes so large that the value of m approaches 0 for the pixels surrounding (i. It simultaneously normalizes the brightness across an image and increases the contrast. In enhanced Lee and kuan filters the image is divided into three classes based on coefficient of variation C I (t ) . and the diffusion is stopped across edges. I ] 0) I0 Where r and s are the indices of the filter window and m is the weighting function.The Lee and kuan filter has the general form field. C 2 =∞. which serves as edge detector in speckled images.This makes the filter to preserve the originally observed image. which converts multiplicative noise to additive noise. Just as lee and frost filters utilize the coefficient of variation in adaptive filtering.2Homomorphic filter Homomorphic filter [13] is a generalized technique involving a nonlinear mapping of an image to a different domain in which linear filter techniques are applied. j s) (6) I t I (t Where iv[c( I ).If C I (t ) ˆ R (t ) I (t ) [ I (t ) I (t )] W (t ) (3) W is the weighting function ranging between 0 for flat regions and 1 for regions with high signal activity.2. 3. W (t ) 1 u u Cu 2 CI 2 (t ) I I (4) Where Cu and C I are the coefficients of variations of the noise u and the image I. The enhanced filters adequately average the homogeneous areas and preserve the edges better than the standard filters. The classical Lee. which tends to preserve the originally observed image.2. The function exhibits high values at edges and produces low values in homogeneous regions. The weighting function for the Lee filter is calculated according to (4). c( I ) is the diffusion coefficient m(i r. As the anisotropic diffusion performs well with additive Gaussian noise. j ) is the output of the filter. It replaces the original gray level of a pixel by the median of gray values of pixels in a specific neighborhood.  pixels in a moving window and R (i . pure averaging is used and when it is above threshold all pass filter is performed. standard lee and Frost filters are applied. denotes the iv is the divergence operator. Thus it ensures the mean 24 . which makes the filters to act like an all pass filter. I and the value of W approaches 1. j ) . Most importantly. This filter is popular for reducing the noise without blurring the edges of the image. kuan and Frost filters are only reliable in a bounded as the gradient strength increases. magnitude. which is used to remove the „speckle‟ noise from an Ultrasound image.In the homogeneous regions C 2 = C 2 and u I the value of W approaches 0. j s) K0 exp[ KCI 2 (t ) r 2 s 2 ] (7) and I 0 is the original image. Perona and malik proposed the nonlinear PDE for smoothing image in continuous domain.2 Non linear filters 3. j s) I (i r.and remain 1 for the pixel (i. is the gradient operator.3Diffusion filter In the case of diffusion filtering the direction and strength of the diffusion are controlled by an edge detection function. .International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887) Volume 12– No. December 2010 features. They are based on the multiplicative model as in (2). The Frost filter can be represented as ˆ R(i. the diffusion decreases KC I 2 approaches 0 and the value of m approaches 1. The median filter is also called the order specific filter because it is based on statistics derived from ordering the elements of a set rather than taking the mean. j ) r s m(i r. It removes speckles and at the same time enhances the edges. j ) .1Median filter Median filtering [9] is a nonlinear filtering method. High boost butter worth filter is used here to reject the resulting additive noise. The standard adaptive mean filters for speckle reductions are Lee[8]. In the areas of high variance like edges. Speckle Reducing Anisotropic Diffusion (SRAD)[16] is proposed for speckled images without logarithmic compression. It removes speckles by modifying the image via solving a Partial Differential Equation (PDE). I is the average of is below a lower threshold.2. The weighting function of the kuan filter is defined as W (t ) 1 Cu2 CI2 (t ) 1 Cu2 (5) From the equations the difference between the two filters is only the term 1 Cu2 . followed by mapping back to the original domain for the purpose of image enhancement and restoration. which makes the filter to act like a mean filter. The damping factor K is chosen such that in homogeneous areas c( I ) should monotonically decrease. When it is between the two thresholds. homomorphic filter despeckling methods take the advantage of logarithmic transformation. 3. 3. The diffusion coefficient function Where K0 is a normalizing constant and K is a damping factor. SRAD exploits the instantaneous coefficient of variation. Kuan[7] and Frost[4]. which makes filter act like a mean filter.

represents the covariance between the original and despeckled images. the Lee and Kuan filters perform more or less equally and better than the mean and Frost filters. 1 and the qualitative results are shown in Fig. SSI (2 x y+2.Let x and y denote the original and denoised image. CONLUSION (11) The speckle reduction and detail retention are two key issues in speckle suppression of medical ultrasound images. The higher the ratio.International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887) Volume 12– No.Edge Preservation Factor(EPF). Therefore in addition to the above performance metrics. PSNR. EPF: The edge preservation ability of the filter is compared by Edge Preservation Factor and is computed using [11]: 4. To investigate the effectiveness of the different speckle reduction methods. SSIM: The Structural Similarity Index between two images is computed as [15]: 25 . The standard median filter improves the signal strength when compared to homomorphic filter but has less edge preservation capability among the nonlinear filters compared. Frost.Table.2.Δy) 2 2 (Δx . j y i. December 2010 preserving behavior in the homogeneous regions and edge preserving and edge enhancing at the edges. j ) i 1j 1 SNR = 10. SNR: Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) [10] compares the level of desired signal to the level of background noise. IMGQ and EPF. Kuan.log10 M N 2 ( x i.log10 (g max / RMSE) (10) Where g max is the maximum intensity in the unfiltered images. SRAD filter removes substantial amount of noise and also preserves edges and details. Unlike SRAD. Structure Similarity Index(SSIM) and Image Quality Index(IMGQ). results are plotted in Fig.1. Speckle Reducing Anisotropic Diffusion filter (SRAD) is better than several commonly used filters including Mean . Signal-to – Noise Ratio(SNR). j MN i 1 j 1 1 M N yi . From Table 1. The larger SNR values correspond to good quality image. NCD works with the US images after logarithmic compression. another measure for edge preservation is also considered.55)( x 7.Δx) (Δy . preservation of edges of the image also should be considered. Where x and y represent the mean and . The NCD filter performs better than the median and homomorphic filters.65) y The SSI lies between -1 for a bad and 1 for a good similarity between the original and despeckled images.02 has been added synthetically to the test image. the less obtrusive the background noise is. Nonlinear coherent enhancement diffusion (NCD) is another method for handling speckle noise.Lee.Simulations are carried out in MATLAB. Speckle noise of variance 0. j ) i 1j 1 M N Where ∆x and ∆y are the high pass filtered versions of images x and y.Δx)(Δy . EPF = (Δx . median and also the homomorphic filter and Non linear Coherent Diffusion filter (NCD) in terms of speckle suppression and detail preservation. obtained with a 3x3 pixel standard approximation of the Laplacian operator. (8) 5. SNR. Performance of all algorithms is tested with ultrasound image of liver.1 presents the performance of different speckle reduction filters in terms of RMSE. xy y the standard deviation of original and despeckled images. Where M and N are the width and height of the image. The performance metrics show that amongst the different type of speckle reduction filters listed in Table. SSIM.55)( xy 2 2 2 (x y 2. RMSE: The Root Mean square error (RMSE). The standard filters are tested with a window size of 3x3. j ) 2 (9) PSNR: Peak Signal to Noise Ratio (PSNR) is computed using [10]: 2 PSNR = 20.Peak Signal-to – Noise Ratio(PSNR). j y i. IMGQ: The universal Quality Index [14]: 2 QI 2y x 2 2 (x) x y ( y) xy 2 y x 2 2 x y x 6. The PSNR is higher for a better transformed image. IMAGE METRICS QUALITY EVALUATION The performance of each filter is evaluated quantitatively for Liver ultrasound image with speckle noise using the quality metrics like Root Mean Square Error(RMSE). The larger value of EPF means more ability to preserve edges.65) (12) 2 7. is given by [5]: RMSE = ( xi . In ultrasound imaging in addition to speckle noise suppression. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION The ultrasound image of liver is taken as a test image. To see the over-all performance. they are applied to the image corrupted with speckle noise . it can be seen that in the case of linear filters.Δy) (13) 2 2 ( x i.6.

2149 0. REFERENCES [1] J.7123 0.8500 0. 303324.2 mean f).218 19.International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 – 8887) Volume 12– No. and the filtered images (b)–(i).799 21.523 5.1.706 36.8134 0.6.Liver image 35 30 quality metrics 25 20 15 10 PSNR SNR RMSE d).3 0.476 20.535 6.6 0.7281 0.7234 0.4 0. Thurnstone.Frost filter 5 mean lee kuan frost medianHomomorphic SRAD filters NCD 1 0.882 7.7439 0.458 34.5 0.247 22.” Ultrason. December 2010 Table 1. vol. Original ultrasound image of liver (a). EPF. 1979.Lee filter a).387 35.211 35.2432 0.Median filter g).837 33.186 18.8582 0.7263 0.6232 b).Filter‟s performance in terms of RMSE.Homomorphic filter quality metrics SSIM IMGQ EPF h)SRAD i).Kuan filter e).2630 0.2619 0..8468 0.8630 0.253 6.NCD lee kuan frost medianHomomorphic SRAD filters NCD Fig. 2.7182 0. 26 . L. “Acoustic speckle: Theory and experimental analysis.330 34. Abbott and F. IMGQ. Comparison of performance of different filters Filter RMSE SNR PSNR SSIM IMGQ EPF Mean Lee Kuan Frost Med Homo SRAD NCD 40 6.7067 0.259 6.209 6.6358 0.801 18.Mean filter c).805 35.8798 0. PSNR. Imag.7241 0.3953 0.8 0.281 0.8369 0. pp.209 20. SSIM.377 21. Fig.9446 0.7 0. SNR. G. 7.220 33.209 6.8817 0. 1.9 0.

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