Validation of biomechanical deformable image registration in the abdomen, thorax, and pelvis in a commercial radiotherapy treatment planning system

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The accuracy of deformable image registration tools can vary widely between imaging modalities and specific implementations of the same algorithms. A biomechanical model-based algorithm initially developed in-house at an academic institution was translated into a commercial radiotherapy treatment planning system and validated for multiple imaging modalities and anatomic sites.


Biomechanical deformable registration (morfeus) is a geometry-driven algorithm based on the finite element method. Boundary conditions are derived from the model-based segmentation of controlling structures in each image which establishes a point-to-point surface correspondence. For each controlling structure, material properties and fixed or sliding interfaces are assigned. The displacements of internal volumes for controlling structures and other structures implicitly deformed are solved with finite element analysis. Registration was performed for 74 patients with images (mean vector resolution) of thoracic and abdominal 4DCT (2.8 mm) and MR (5.3 mm), liver CT-MR (4.5 mm), and prostate MR (2.6 mm). Accuracy was quantified between deformed and actual target images using distance-to-agreement (DTA) for structure surfaces and the target registration error (TRE) for internal point landmarks.


The results of the commercial implementation were as follows. The mean DTA was ≤ 1.0 mm for controlling structures and 1.0–3.5 mm for implicitly deformed structures on average. TRE ranged from 2.0 mm on prostate MR to 5.1 mm on lung MR on average, within 0.1 mm or lower than the image voxel sizes. Accuracy was not overly sensitive to changes in the material properties or variability in structure segmentations, as changing these inputs affected DTA and TRE by ≤ 0.8 mm. Maximum DTA > 5 mm occurred for 88% of the structures evaluated although these were within the inherent segmentation uncertainty for 82% of structures. Differences in accuracy between the commercial and in-house research implementations were ≤ 0.5 mm for mean DTA and ≤ 0.7 mm for mean TRE.


Accuracy of biomechanical deformable registration evaluated on a large cohort of images in the thorax, abdomen and prostate was similar to the image voxel resolution on average across multiple modalities. Validation of this treatment planning system implementation supports biomechanical deformable registration as a versatile clinical tool to enable accurate target delineation at planning and treatment adaptation.

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