FlowReg: Fast Deformable Unsupervised Medical Image Registration using Optical Flow

by   Sergiu Mocanu, et al.

We propose FlowReg, a deep learning-based framework for unsupervised image registration for neuroimaging applications. The system is composed of two architectures that are trained sequentially: FlowReg-A which affinely corrects for gross differences between moving and fixed volumes in 3D followed by FlowReg-O which performs pixel-wise deformations on a slice-by-slice basis for fine tuning in 2D. The affine network regresses the 3D affine matrix based on a correlation loss function that enforces global similarity. The deformable network operates on 2D image slices based on the optical flow network FlowNet-Simple but with three loss components. The photometric loss minimizes pixel intensity differences differences, the smoothness loss encourages similar magnitudes between neighbouring vectors, and a correlation loss that is used to maintain the intensity similarity between fixed and moving image slices. The proposed method is compared to four open source registration techniques ANTs, Demons, SE, and Voxelmorph. In total, 4643 FLAIR MR imaging volumes are used from dementia and vascular disease cohorts, acquired from over 60 international centres with varying acquisition parameters. A battery of quantitative novel registration validation metrics are proposed that focus on the structural integrity of tissues, spatial alignment, and intensity similarity. Experimental results show FlowReg (FlowReg-A+O) performs better than iterative-based registration algorithms for intensity and spatial alignment metrics with a Pixelwise Agreement of 0.65, correlation coefficient of 0.80, and Mutual Information of 0.29. Among the deep learning frameworks, FlowReg-A or FlowReg-A+O provided the highest performance over all but one of the metrics. Results show that FlowReg is able to obtain high intensity and spatial similarity while maintaining the shape and structure of anatomy and pathology.


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