Robust methods for automatic image-to-world registration in cone-beam CT interventional guidance

H. Dang, Y. Otake, S. Schafer, J. W. Stayman, G. Kleinszig, J. H. Siewerdsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Real-time surgical navigation relies on accurate image-to-world registration to align the coordinate systems of the image and patient. Conventional manual registration can present a workflow bottleneck and is prone to manual error and intraoperator variability. This work reports alternative means of automatic image-to-world registration, each method involving an automatic registration marker (ARM) used in conjunction with C-arm cone-beam CT (CBCT). The first involves a Known-Model registration method in which the ARM is a predefined tool, and the second is a Free-Form method in which the ARM is freely configurable. Methods: Studies were performed using a prototype C-arm for CBCT and a surgical tracking system. A simple ARM was designed with markers comprising a tungsten sphere within infrared reflectors to permit detection of markers in both x-ray projections and by an infrared tracker. The Known-Model method exercised a predefined specification of the ARM in combination with 3D-2D registration to estimate the transformation that yields the optimal match between forward projection of the ARM and the measured projection images. The Free-Form method localizes markers individually in projection data by a robust Hough transform approach extended from previous work, backprojected to 3D image coordinates based on C-arm geometric calibration. Image-domain point sets were transformed to world coordinates by rigid-body point-based registration. The robustness and registration accuracy of each method was tested in comparison to manual registration across a range of body sites (head, thorax, and abdomen) of interest in CBCT-guided surgery, including cases with interventional tools in the radiographic scene. Results: The automatic methods exhibited similar target registration error (TRE) and were comparable or superior to manual registration for placement of the ARM within ∼200 mm of C-arm isocenter. Marker localization in projection data was robust across all anatomical sites, including challenging scenarios involving the presence of interventional tools. The reprojection error of marker localization was independent of the distance of the ARM from isocenter, and the overall TRE was dominated by the configuration of individual fiducials and distance from the target as predicted by theory. The median TRE increased with greater ARM-to-isocenter distance (e.g., for the Free-Form method, TRE increasing from 0.78 mm to 2.04 mm at distances of ∼75 mm and 370 mm, respectively). The median TRE within ∼200 mm distance was consistently lower than that of the manual method (TRE 0.82 mm). Registration performance was independent of anatomical site (head, thorax, and abdomen). The Free-Form method demonstrated a statistically significant improvement (p 0.0044) in reproducibility compared to manual registration (0.22 mm versus 0.30 mm, respectively). Conclusions: Automatic image-to-world registration methods demonstrate the potential for improved accuracy, reproducibility, and workflow in CBCT-guided procedures. A Free-Form method was shown to exhibit robustness against anatomical site, with comparable or improved TRE compared to manual registration. It was also comparable or superior in performance to a Known-Model method in which the ARM configuration is specified as a predefined tool, thereby allowing configuration of fiducials on the fly or attachment to the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6484-6498
Number of pages15
JournalMedical physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • cone-beam CT
  • image-to-world registration
  • registration accuracy
  • surgical navigation
  • surgical tracking
  • target registration error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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