The development of a framework of deformable image registration and segmentation for the purpose of temporal subtraction contrast-enhanced breast CT is described. An iterative histogram-based two-means clustering method was used for the segmentation. Dedicated breast CT images were segmented into background (air), adipose, fibroglandular and skin components. Fibroglandular tissue was classified as either normal or contrast-enhanced then divided into tiers for the purpose of categorizing degrees of contrast enhancement. A variant of the Demons deformable registration algorithm, intensity difference adaptive Demons (IDAD), was developed to correct for the large deformation forces that stemmed from contrast enhancement. In this application, the accuracy of the proposed method was evaluated in both mathematically-simulated and physically-acquired phantom images. Clinical usage and accuracy of the temporal subtraction framework was demonstrated using contrast-enhanced breast CT datasets from five patients. Registration performance was quantified using normalized cross correlation (NCC), symmetric uncertainty coefficient, normalized mutual information (NMI), mean square error (MSE) and target registration error (TRE). The proposed method outperformed conventional affine and other Demons variations in contrast enhanced breast CT image registration. In simulation studies, IDAD exhibited improvement in MSE (0-16%), NCC (0-6%), NMI (0-13%) and TRE (0-34%) compared to the conventional Demons approaches, depending on the size and intensity of the enhancing lesion. As lesion size and contrast enhancement levels increased, so did the improvement. The drop in the correlation between the pre- and post-contrast images for the largest enhancement levels in phantom studies is less than 1.2% (150 Hounsfield units). Registration error, measured by TRE, shows only submillimeter mismatches between the concordant anatomical target points in all patient studies. The algorithm was implemented using a parallel processing architecture resulting in rapid execution time for the iterative segmentation and intensity-adaptive registration techniques. Characterization of contrast-enhanced lesions is improved using temporal subtraction contrast-enhanced dedicated breast CT. Adaptation of Demons registration forces as a function of contrast-enhancement levels provided a means to accurately align breast tissue in pre- and post-contrast image acquisitions, improving subtraction results. Spatial subtraction of the aligned images yields useful diagnostic information with respect to enhanced lesion morphology and uptake.
- breast cancer imaging
- cone beam CT
- deformable image registration
- image segmentation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging