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Med Phys. 2012 Dec;39(12):7540-52. doi: 10.1118/1.4767758.

Intraoperative patient registration using volumetric true 3D ultrasound without fiducials.

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  • 1Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA.



Accurate patient registration is crucial for effective image-guidance in open cranial surgery. Typically, it is accomplished by matching skin-affixed fiducials manually identified in the operating room (OR) with their counterparts in the preoperative images, which not only consumes OR time and personnel resources but also relies on the presence (and subsequent fixation) of the fiducials during the preoperative scans (until the procedure begins). In this study, the authors present a completely automatic, volumetric image-based patient registration technique that does not rely on fiducials by registering tracked (true) 3D ultrasound (3DUS) directly with preoperative magnetic resonance (MR) images.


Multistart registrations between binary 3DUS and MR volumes were first executed to generate an initial starting point without incorporating prior information on the US transducer contact point location or orientation for subsequent registration between grayscale 3DUS and MR via maximization of either mutual information (MI) or correlation ratio (CR). Patient registration was then computed through concatenation of spatial transformations.


In ten (N = 10) patient cases, an average fiducial (marker) distance error (FDE) of 5.0 mm and 4.3 mm was achieved using MI or CR registration (FDE was smaller with CR vs MI in eight of ten cases), which are comparable to values reported for typical fiducial- or surface-based patient registrations. The translational and rotational capture ranges were found to be 24.0 mm and 27.0° for binary registrations (up to 32.8 mm and 36.4°), 12.2 mm and 25.6° for MI registrations (up to 18.3 mm and 34.4°), and 22.6 mm and 40.8° for CR registrations (up to 48.5 mm and 65.6°), respectively. The execution time to complete a patient registration was 12-15 min with parallel processing, which can be significantly reduced by confining the 3DUS transducer location to the center of craniotomy in MR before registration (an execution time of 5 min is achievable).


Because common features deep in the brain and throughout the surgical volume of interest are used, intraoperative fiducial-less patient registration is possible on-demand, which is attractive in cases where preoperative patient registration is compromised (e.g., from loss∕movement of skin-affixed fiducials) or not possible (e.g., in cases of emergency when external fiducials were not placed in time). CR registration was more robust than MI (capture range about twice as big) and appears to be more accurate, although both methods are comparable to or better than fiducial-based registration in the patient cases evaluated. The results presented here suggest that 3DUS image-based patient registration holds promise for clinical application in the future.

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