Image registration is an essential technique to obtain point correspondences between anatomical structures from different images. Conventional non-rigid registration methods assume a continuous and smooth deformation field throughout the image. However, the deformation field at the interface of different organs is not necessarily continuous, since the organs may slide over or separate from each other. Therefore, imposing continuity and smoothness ubiquitously would lead to artifacts and increased errors near the discontinuity interface.
In computational mechanics, the eXtended Finite Element Method (XFEM) was introduced to handle discontinuities without using computational meshes that conform to the discontinuity geometry. Instead, the interpolation bases themselves were enriched with discontinuous functional terms. Borrowing this concept, we propose a multiresolution eXtented Free-Form Deformation (XFFD) framework that seamlessly integrates within and extends the standard Free-Form Deformation (FFD) approach. Discontinuities are incorporated by enriching the B-spline basis functions coupled with extra degrees of freedom, which are only introduced near the discontinuity interface. In contrast with most previous methods, restricted to sliding motion, no ad hoc penalties or constraints are introduced to reduce gaps and overlaps. This allows XFFD to describe more general discontinuous motions. In addition, we integrate XFFD into a rigorously formulated multiresolution framework by introducing an exact parameter upsampling method.
The proposed method has been evaluated in two publicly available datasets: 4D pulmonary CT images from the DIR-Lab dataset and 4D CT liver datasets. The XFFD achieved a Target Registration Error (TRE) of 1.17 ± 0.85 mm in the DIR-lab dataset and 1.94 ± 1.01 mm in the liver dataset, which significantly improves on the performance of the state-of-the-art methods handling discontinuities.