Liver vessel segmentation in CTA images is a challenging task, especially in the case of noisy images. This paper investigates whether pre-filtering improves liver vessel segmentation in 3D CTA images. We introduce a quantitative evaluation of several well-known filters based on a proposed liver vessel segmentation method on CTA images. We compare the effect of different diffusion techniques i.e. Regularized Perona-Malik, Hybrid Diffusion with Continuous Switch and Vessel Enhancing Diffusion as well as the vesselness approaches proposed by Sato, Frangi and Erdt. Liver vessel segmentation of the pre-processed images is performed using a histogram-based region grown with local maxima as seed points. Quantitative measurements (sensitivity, specificity and accuracy) are determined based on manual landmarks inside and outside the vessels, followed by T-tests for statistic comparisons on 51 clinical CTA images. The evaluation demonstrates that all the filters make liver vessel segmentation have a significantly higher accuracy than without using a filter (p < 0.05); Hybrid Diffusion with Continuous Switch achieves the best performance. Compared to the diffusion filters, vesselness filters have a greater sensitivity but less specificity. In addition, the proposed liver vessel segmentation method with pre-filtering is shown to perform robustly on a clinical dataset having a low contrast-to-noise of up to 3 (dB). The results indicate that the pre-filtering step significantly improves liver vessel segmentation on 3D CTA images.