Med Phys 2012 Aug;39(8):4679-90
Department of Radiology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.
Purpose: The aim of this study was to quantify the effect of four image registration methods on lung texture features extracted from serial computed tomography (CT) scans obtained from healthy human subjects.
Methods: Two chest CT scans acquired at different time points were collected retrospectively for each of 27 patients. Following automated lung segmentation, each follow-up CT scan was registered to the baseline scan using four algorithms: (1) rigid, (2) affine, (3) B-splines deformable, and (4) demons deformable. The registration accuracy for each scan pair was evaluated by measuring the Euclidean distance between 150 identified landmarks. On average, 1432 spatially matched 32 × 32-pixel region-of-interest (ROI) pairs were automatically extracted from each scan pair. First-order, fractal, Fourier, Laws' filter, and gray-level co-occurrence matrix texture features were calculated in each ROI, for a total of 140 features. Agreement between baseline and follow-up scan ROI feature values was assessed by Bland-Altman analysis for each feature; the range spanned by the 95% limits of agreement of feature value differences was calculated and normalized by the average feature value to obtain the normalized range of agreement (nRoA). Features with small nRoA were considered "registration-stable." The normalized bias for each feature was calculated from the feature value differences between baseline and follow-up scans averaged across all ROIs in every patient. Because patients had "normal" chest CT scans, minimal change in texture feature values between scan pairs was anticipated, with the expectation of small bias and narrow limits of agreement.
Results: Registration with demons reduced the Euclidean distance between landmarks such that only 9% of landmarks were separated by ≥1 mm, compared with rigid (98%), affine (95%), and B-splines (90%). Ninety-nine of the 140 (71%) features analyzed yielded nRoA > 50% for all registration methods, indicating that the majority of feature values were perturbed following registration. Nineteen of the features (14%) had nRoA < 15% following demons registration, indicating relative feature value stability. Student's t-tests showed that the nRoA of these 19 features was significantly larger when rigid, affine, or B-splines registration methods were used compared with demons registration. Demons registration yielded greater normalized bias in feature value change than B-splines registration, though this difference was not significant (p = 0.15).
Conclusions: Demons registration provided higher spatial accuracy between matched anatomic landmarks in serial CT scans than rigid, affine, or B-splines algorithms. Texture feature changes calculated in healthy lung tissue from serial CT scans were smaller following demons registration compared with all other algorithms. Though registration altered the values of the majority of texture features, 19 features remained relatively stable after demons registration, indicating their potential for detecting pathologic change in serial CT scans. Combined use of accurate deformable registration using demons and texture analysis may allow for quantitative evaluation of local changes in lung tissue due to disease progression or treatment response.