PCA-based groupwise image registration for quantitative MRI

Huizinga, W., Poot, D. H J, Guyader, J. M., Klaassen, R., Coolen, B. F., Van Kranenburg, M., Van Geuns, R. J M, Uitterdijk, A., Polfliet, M., Vandemeulebroucke, J., Leemans, A., Niessen, W. J., Klein, S.


Medical Image Analysis 29 p. 65-78


Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) is a technique for estimating quantitative tissue properties, such as the T1 and T2 relaxation times, apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and various perfusion measures. This estimation is achieved by acquiring multiple images with different acquisition parameters (or at multiple time points after injection of a contrast agent) and by fitting a qMRI signal model to the image intensities. Image registration is often necessary to compensate for misalignments due to subject motion and/or geometric distortions caused by the acquisition. However, large differences in image appearance make accurate image registration challenging. In this work, we propose a groupwise image registration method for compensating misalignment in qMRI. The groupwise formulation of the method eliminates the requirement of choosing a reference image, thus avoiding a registration bias. The method minimizes a cost function that is based on principal component analysis (PCA), exploiting the fact that intensity changes in qMRI can be described by a low-dimensional signal model, but not requiring knowledge on the specific acquisition model. The method was evaluated on 4D CT data of the lungs, and both real and synthetic images of five different qMRI applications: T1 mapping in a porcine heart, combined T1 and T2 mapping in carotid arteries, ADC mapping in the abdomen, diffusion tensor mapping in the brain, and dynamic contrast-enhanced mapping in the abdomen. Each application is based on a different acquisition model. The method is compared to a mutual information-based pairwise registration method and four other state-of-the-art groupwise registration methods. Registration accuracy is evaluated in terms of the precision of the estimated qMRI parameters, overlap of segmented structures, distance between corresponding landmarks, and smoothness of the deformation. In all qMRI applications the proposed method performed better than or equally well as competing methods, while avoiding the need to choose a reference image. It is also shown that the results of the conventional pairwise approach do depend on the choice of this reference image. We therefore conclude that our groupwise registration method with a similarity measure based on PCA is the preferred technique for compensating misalignments in qMRI.