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Population imaging studies generate data for developing and implementing personalised health strategies to prevent, or more effectively treat disease. Large prospective epidemiological studies acquire imaging for pre-symptomatic populations. These studies enable the early discovery of alterations due to impending disease, and enable early identification of individuals at risk. Such studies pose new challenges requiring automatic image analysis. To date, few large-scale population-level cardiac imaging studies have been conducted. One such study stands out for its sheer size, careful implementation, and availability of top quality expert annotation; the UK Biobank (UKB). The resulting massive imaging datasets (targeting ca. 100,000 subjects) has put published approaches for cardiac image quantification to the test. In this paper, we present and evaluate a cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) image analysis pipeline that properly scales up and can provide a fully automatic analysis of the UKB CMR study. Without manual user interactions, our pipeline performs end-to-end image analytics from multi-view cine CMR images all the way to anatomical and functional bi-ventricular quantification. All this, while maintaining relevant quality controls of the CMR input images, and resulting image segmentations. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first published attempt to fully automate the extraction of global and regional reference ranges of all key functional cardiovascular indexes, from both left and right cardiac ventricles, for a population of 20,000 subjects imaged at 50 time frames per subject, for a total of one million CMR volumes. In addition, our pipeline provides 3D anatomical bi-ventricular models of the heart. These models enable the extraction of detailed information of the morphodynamics of the two ventricles for subsequent association to genetic, omics, lifestyle habits, exposure information, and other information provided in population imaging studies. We validated our proposed CMR analytics pipeline against manual expert readings on a reference cohort of 4620 subjects with contour delineations and corresponding clinical indexes. Our results show broad significant agreement between the manually obtained reference indexes, and those automatically computed via our framework. 80.67% of subjects were processed with mean contour distance of less than 1 pixel, and 17.50% with mean contour distance between 1 and 2 pixels. Finally, we compare our pipeline with a recently published approach reporting on UKB data, and based on deep learning. Our comparison shows similar performance in terms of segmentation accuracy with respect to human experts.

Original publication




Journal article


Medical image analysis

Publication Date





26 - 42


Centre for Computational Imaging and Simulation Technologies in Biomedicine (CISTIB), School of Computing, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK; Biomedical Imaging Department, Leeds Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine (LICAMM), School of Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. Electronic address: