Local rigid registration for multimodal texture feature extraction from medical images
The joint extraction of texture features from medical images of different modalities requires an accurate image registration at the target structures. In many cases rigid registration of the entire images does not achieve the desired accuracy whereas deformable registration is too complex and may result in undesired deformations. This paper presents a novel region of interest alignment approach based on local rigid registration enabling image fusion for multimodal texture feature extraction. First rigid registration on the entire images is performed to obtain an initial guess. Then small cubic regions around the target structure are clipped from all images and individually rigidly registered. The approach was applied to extract texture features in clinically acquired CT and MR images from lymph nodes in the oropharynx for an oral cancer reoccurrence prediction framework. Visual inspection showed that in all of the 30 cases at least a subtle misalignment was perceivable for the globally rigidly aligned images. After applying the presented approach the alignment of the target structure significantly improved in 19 cases. In 12 cases no alignment mismatch whatsoever was perceptible without requiring the complexity of deformable registration and without deforming the target structure. Further investigation showed that if the resolutions of the individual modalities differ significantly, partial volume effects occur, diminishing the significance of the multimodal features even for perfectly aligned images.