Registration of lung nodules using a semi-rigid model: Method and preliminary results

Shaohua Sun, Geoffrey D. Rubin, David Paik, Robert M. Steiner, Feng Zhuge, Sandy Napel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The tracking of lung nodules across computed tomography (CT) scans acquired at different times for the same patient is helpful for the determination of malignancy. We are developing a nodule registration system to facilitate this process. We propose to use a semi-rigid method that considers principal structures surrounding the nodule and allows relative movements among the structures. The proposed similarity metric, which evaluates both the image correlation and the degree of elastic deformation amongst the structures, is maximized by a two-layered optimization method, employing a simulated annealing framework. We tested our method by simulating five cases that represent physiological deformation as well as different nodule shape/size changes with time. Each case is made up of a source and target scan, where the source scan consists of a nodule-free patient CT volume into which we inserted ten simulated lung nodules, and the target scan is the result of applying a known, physiologically based nonrigid transformation to the nodule-free source scan, into which we inserted modified versions of the corresponding nodules at the same, known locations. Five different modification strategies were used, one for each of the five cases: (1) nodules maintain size and shape, (2) nodules disappear, (3) nodules shrink uniformly by a factor of 2, (4) nodules grow uniformly by a factor of 2, and (5) nodules grow nonuniformly. We also matched 97 real nodules in pairs of scans (acquired at different times) from 12 patients and compared our registration to a radiologist's visual determination. In the simulation experiments, the mean absolute registration errors were 1.0±0.8 mm (s.d.), 1.1±0.7 mm (s.d.), 1.0±0.7 mm (s.d.), 1.0±0.6 mm (s.d.), and 1.1±0.9 mm (s.d.) for the five cases, respectively. For the 97 nodule pairs in 12 patient scans, the mean absolute registration error was 1.4±0.8 mm (s.d.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-626
Number of pages14
JournalMedical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Lung nodule registration
  • Semi-rigid method
  • Two-layered optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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