In this paper we present a new approach for the nonrigid registration of contrast-enhanced breast MRI. A hierarchical transformation model of the motion of the breast has been developed. The global motion of the breast is modeled by an affine transformation while the local breast motion is described by a free-form deformation (FFD) based on B-splines. Normalized mutual information is used as a voxel-based similarity measure which is insensitive to intensity changes as a result of the contrast enhancement. Registration is achieved by minimizing a cost function, which represents a combination of the cost associated with the smoothness of the transformation and the cost associated with the image similarity. The algorithm has been applied to the fully automated registration of three-dimensional (3-D) breast MRI in volunteers and patients. In particular, we have compared the results of the proposed nonrigid registration algorithm to those obtained using rigid and affine registration techniques. The results clearly indicate that the nonrigid registration algorithm is much better able to recover the motion and deformation of the breast than rigid or affine registration algorithms.
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