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Neuroimage. 2005 Aug 1;27(1):222-30.

On-line automatic slice positioning for brain MR imaging.

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Department of Radiology, MGH, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


In clinical brain MR imaging protocols, the technician collects a quick localizer and manually positions the subsequent scans using the localizer as a guide. We present a method for automatic slice positioning using a rapidly acquired 3D localizer. The localizer is automatically aligned to a statistical atlas representing 40 healthy subjects. The atlas contains the probability of a given tissue type occurring at a given location in atlas space and the conditional probability distribution of the multi-spectral MRI intensity values for a given tissue class. Accurate rigid alignment of each subject to an atlas ensures that all patients' scans are acquired in a consistent manner. A further benefit is that slices are positioned consistently over time, so that scans of patients returning for follow-up imaging can be compared side-by-side to accurately monitor the progression of illness. The procedure also helps ensure that left/right asymmetries reflect true anatomy rather than being the result of oblique slice positioning relative to the underlying anatomy. The use of an atlas-based procedure eliminates the need to refer to a database of previously scanned images of the same patient and ensures corresponding alignment across scanners and sites, without requiring fiducial markers. Since the registration method is probabilistic, the registration error tends to increase smoothly in the presence of increasing noise and unusual anatomy or pathology rather than failing catastrophically. Translations and rotations relative to the atlas can be set so that planning can be done in anatomical space, rather than scanner coordinates, and stored as part of the protocol allowing standardization of slice orientations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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