Journal of Digital Imaging

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 718–726 | Cite as

Deformable Registration for Longitudinal Breast MRI Screening

  • Hatef Mehrabian
  • Lara Richmond
  • Yingli Lu
  • Anne L. Martel


MRI screening of high-risk patients for breast cancer provides very high sensitivity, but with a high recall rate and negative biopsies. Comparing the current exam to prior exams reduces the number of follow-up procedures requested by radiologists. Such comparison, however, can be challenging due to the highly deformable nature of breast tissues. Automated co-registration of multiple scans has the potential to aid diagnosis by providing 3D images for side-by-side comparison and also for use in CAD systems. Although many deformable registration techniques exist, they generally have a large number of parameters that need to be optimized and validated for each new application. Here, we propose a framework for such optimization and also identify the optimal input parameter set for registration of 3D T1-weighted MRI of breast using Elastix, a widely used and freely available registration tool. A numerical simulation study was first conducted to model the breast tissue and its deformation through finite element (FE) modeling. This model generated the ground truth for evaluating the registration accuracy by providing the deformation of each voxel in the breast volume. An exhaustive search was performed over various values of 7 registration parameters (4050 different combinations of parameters were assessed) and the optimum parameter set was determined. This study showed that there was a large variation in the registration accuracy of different parameter sets ranging from 0.29 mm to 2.50 mm in median registration error and 3.71 mm to 8.90 mm in 95 percentile of the registration error. Mean registration errors of 0.32 mm, 0.29 mm, and 0.30 mm and 95 percentile errors of 3.71 mm, 5.02 mm, and 4.70 mm were obtained by the three best parameter sets. The optimal parameter set was applied to consecutive breast MRI scans of 13 patients. A radiologist identified 113 landmark pairs (~ 11 per patient) which were used to assess registration accuracy. The results demonstrated that using the optimal registration parameter set, a registration accuracy (in mm) of 3.4 [1.8 6.8] was achieved.


Breast MRI Non-rigid registration Finite element analysis Elastix 



The authors would like to thank the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) for funding this work through CIHR grant number 115161.


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Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physical SciencesSunnybrook Research InstituteTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medical ImagingSunnybrook Health Sciences CentreTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Medical BiophysicsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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