In breast cancer screening for high-risk women, follow-up magnetic resonance images (MRI) are acquired with a time interval ranging from several months up to a few years. Prior MRI studies may provide additional clinical value when examining the current one and thus have the potential to increase sensitivity and specificity of screening. To build a spatial correlation between suspicious findings in both current and prior studies, a reliable alignment method between follow-up studies is desirable. However, long time interval, different scanners and imaging protocols, and varying breast compression can result in a large deformation, which challenges the registration process. In this work, we present a fast and robust spatial alignment framework, which combines automated breast segmentation and current-prior registration techniques in a multi-level fashion. First, fully automatic breast segmentation is applied to extract the breast masks that are used to obtain an initial affine transform. Then, a non-rigid registration algorithm using normalized gradient fields as similarity measure together with curvature regularization is applied. A total of 29 subjects and 58 breast MR images were collected for performance assessment. To evaluate the global registration accuracy, the volume overlap and boundary surface distance metrics are calculated, resulting in an average Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) of 0.96 and root mean square distance (RMSD) of 1.64 mm. In addition, to measure local registration accuracy, for each subject a radiologist annotated 10 pairs of markers in the current and prior studies representing corresponding anatomical locations. The average distance error of marker pairs dropped from 67.37 mm to 10.86 mm after applying registration.
A fast alignment method for breast MRI follow-up studies using automated breast segmentation and current-prior registration
L. Wang, J. Strehlow, J. Ruehaak, F. Weiler, Y. Diez, A. Gubern-Mérida, S. Diekmann, H. Laue and H. Hahn
Medical Imaging 2015;9413:941334-941334-8.