Detection of vessel bifurcations in CT scans for automatic objective assessment of deformable image registration accuracy

Guillaume Cazoulat, Brian M. Anderson, Molly M. McCulloch, Bastien Rigaud, Eugene J. Koay, Kristy K. Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Objective assessment of deformable image registration (DIR) accuracy often relies on the identification of anatomical landmarks in image pairs, a manual process known to be extremely time-expensive. The goal of this study is to propose a method to automatically detect vessel bifurcations in images and assess their use for the computation of target registration errors (TREs). Materials and methods: Three image datasets were retrospectively analyzed. The first dataset included 10 pairs of inhale/exhale phases from lung 4DCTs and full inhale and exhale breath-hold CT scans from 10 patients presenting with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, with 300 corresponding landmarks available for each case (DIR-Lab). The second dataset included six pairs of inhale/exhale phases from lung 4DCTs (POPI dataset), with 100 pairs of landmarks for each case. The third dataset included 28 pairs of pre/post-radiotherapy liver contrast-enhanced CT scans, each with five manually picked vessel bifurcation correspondences. For all images, the vasculature was autosegmented by computing and thresholding a vesselness image. Images of the vasculature centerline were computed, and bifurcations were detected based on centerline voxel neighbors’ count. The vasculature segmentations were independently registered using a Demons algorithm between representations of their surface with distance maps. Detected bifurcations were considered as corresponding when distant by less than 5 mm after vasculature DIR. The selected pairs of bifurcations were used to calculate TRE after registration of the images considering three algorithms: rigid registration, Anaconda, and a Demons algorithm. For comparison with the ground truth, TRE values calculated using the automatically detected correspondences were interpolated in the whole organs to generate TRE maps. The performance of the method in automatically calculating TRE after image registration was quantified by measuring the correlation with the TRE obtained when using the ground truth landmarks. Results: The median Pearson correlation coefficients between ground truth TRE and corresponding values in the generated TRE maps were r = 0.81 and r = 0.67 for the lung and liver cases, respectively. The correlation coefficients between mean TRE for each case were r = 0.99 and r = 0.64 for the lung and liver cases, respectively. Conclusion: For lungs or liver CT scans DIR, a strong correlation was obtained between TRE calculated using manually picked or landmarks automatically detected with the proposed method. This tool should be particularly useful in studies requiring assessing the reliability of a high number of DIRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5935-5946
Number of pages12
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • deformable image registration
  • registration accuracy
  • vessel bifurcations
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Algorithms
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Humans
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Retrospective Studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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