Deep learning (DL) has led to significant improvements in medical image synthesis, enabling advanced image-to-image translation to generate synthetic images. However, DL methods face challenges such as domain shift and high demands for training data, limiting their generalizability and applicability. Historically, image synthesis was also carried out using deformable image registration (DIR), a method that warps moving images of a desired modality to match the anatomy of a fixed image. However, concerns about its speed and accuracy led to its decline in popularity. With the recent advances of DL-based DIR, we now revisit and reinvigorate this line of research. In this paper, we propose a fast and accurate synthesis method based on DIR. We use the task of synthesizing a rare magnetic resonance (MR) sequence, white matter nulled (WMn) T1-weighted (T1-w) images, to demonstrate the potential of our approach. During training, our method learns a DIR model based on the widely available MPRAGE sequence, which is a cerebrospinal fluid nulled (CSFn) T1-w inversion recovery gradient echo pulse sequence. During testing, the trained DIR model is first applied to estimate the deformation between moving and fixed CSFn images. Subsequently, this estimated deformation is applied to align the paired WMn counterpart of the moving CSFn image, yielding a synthetic WMn image for the fixed CSFn image. Our experiments demonstrate promising results for unsupervised image synthesis using DIR. These findings highlight the potential of our technique in contexts where supervised synthesis methods are constrained by limited training data.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging with tagging (tMRI) has long been utilized for quantifying tissue motion and strain during deformation. However, a phenomenon known as tag fading, a gradual decrease in tag visibility over time, often complicates post-processing. The first contribution of this study is to model tag fading by considering the interplay between $T_1$ relaxation and the repeated application of radio frequency (RF) pulses during serial imaging sequences. This is a factor that has been overlooked in prior research on tMRI post-processing. Further, we have observed an emerging trend of utilizing raw tagged MRI within a deep learning-based (DL) registration framework for motion estimation. In this work, we evaluate and analyze the impact of commonly used image similarity objectives in training DL registrations on raw tMRI. This is then compared with the Harmonic Phase-based approach, a traditional approach which is claimed to be robust to tag fading. Our findings, derived from both simulated images and an actual phantom scan, reveal the limitations of various similarity losses in raw tMRI and emphasize caution in registration tasks where image intensity changes over time.
Anisotropic low-resolution (LR) magnetic resonance (MR) images are fast to obtain but hinder automated processing. We propose to use denoising diffusion probabilistic models (DDPMs) to super-resolve these 2D-acquired LR MR slices. This paper introduces AniRes2D, a novel approach combining DDPM with a residual prediction for 2D super-resolution (SR). Results demonstrate that AniRes2D outperforms several other DDPM-based models in quantitative metrics, visual quality, and out-of-domain evaluation. We use a trained AniRes2D to super-resolve 3D volumes slice by slice, where comparative quantitative results and reduced skull aliasing are achieved compared to a recent state-of-the-art self-supervised 3D super-resolution method. Furthermore, we explored the use of noise conditioning augmentation (NCA) as an alternative augmentation technique for DDPM-based SR models, but it was found to reduce performance. Our findings contribute valuable insights to the application of DDPMs for SR of anisotropic MR images.
* Accepted for presentation at SPIE Medical Imaging 2024, Clinical and
Automatic multiple sclerosis (MS) lesion segmentation using multi-contrast magnetic resonance (MR) images provides improved efficiency and reproducibility compared to manual delineation. Current state-of-the-art automatic MS lesion segmentation methods utilize modified U-Net-like architectures. However, in the literature, dedicated architecture modifications were always required to maximize their performance. In addition, the best-performing methods have not proven to be generalizable to diverse test datasets with contrast variations and image artifacts. In this work, we developed an accurate and generalizable MS lesion segmentation model using the well-known U-Net architecture without further modification. A novel test-time self-ensembled lesion fusion strategy is proposed that not only achieved the best performance using the ISBI 2015 MS segmentation challenge data but also demonstrated robustness across various self-ensemble parameter choices. Moreover, equipped with instance normalization rather than batch normalization widely used in literature, the model trained on the ISBI challenge data generalized well on clinical test datasets from different scanners.
Deep learning algorithms utilizing magnetic resonance (MR) images have demonstrated cutting-edge proficiency in autonomously segmenting multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions. Despite their achievements, these algorithms may struggle to extend their performance across various sites or scanners, leading to domain generalization errors. While few-shot or one-shot domain adaptation emerges as a potential solution to mitigate generalization errors, its efficacy might be hindered by the scarcity of labeled data in the target domain. This paper seeks to tackle this challenge by integrating one-shot adaptation data with harmonized training data that incorporates labels. Our approach involves synthesizing new training data with a contrast akin to that of the test domain, a process we refer to as "contrast harmonization" in MRI. Our experiments illustrate that the amalgamation of one-shot adaptation data with harmonized training data surpasses the performance of utilizing either data source in isolation. Notably, domain adaptation using exclusively harmonized training data achieved comparable or even superior performance compared to one-shot adaptation. Moreover, all adaptations required only minimal fine-tuning, ranging from 2 to 5 epochs for convergence.
Tagged magnetic resonance imaging (tMRI) has been employed for decades to measure the motion of tissue undergoing deformation. However, registration-based motion estimation from tMRI is difficult due to the periodic patterns in these images, particularly when the motion is large. With a larger motion the registration approach gets trapped in a local optima, leading to motion estimation errors. We introduce a novel "momenta, shooting, and correction" framework for Lagrangian motion estimation in the presence of repetitive patterns and large motion. This framework, grounded in Lie algebra and Lie group principles, accumulates momenta in the tangent vector space and employs exponential mapping in the diffeomorphic space for rapid approximation towards true optima, circumventing local optima. A subsequent correction step ensures convergence to true optima. The results on a 2D synthetic dataset and a real 3D tMRI dataset demonstrate our method's efficiency in estimating accurate, dense, and diffeomorphic 2D/3D motion fields amidst large motion and repetitive patterns.
* Accepted by MICCAI Workshop 2023: Time-Series Data Analytics and
Over the past decade, deep learning technologies have greatly advanced the field of medical image registration. The initial developments, such as ResNet-based and U-Net-based networks, laid the groundwork for deep learning-driven image registration. Subsequent progress has been made in various aspects of deep learning-based registration, including similarity measures, deformation regularizations, and uncertainty estimation. These advancements have not only enriched the field of deformable image registration but have also facilitated its application in a wide range of tasks, including atlas construction, multi-atlas segmentation, motion estimation, and 2D-3D registration. In this paper, we present a comprehensive overview of the most recent advancements in deep learning-based image registration. We begin with a concise introduction to the core concepts of deep learning-based image registration. Then, we delve into innovative network architectures, loss functions specific to registration, and methods for estimating registration uncertainty. Additionally, this paper explores appropriate evaluation metrics for assessing the performance of deep learning models in registration tasks. Finally, we highlight the practical applications of these novel techniques in medical imaging and discuss the future prospects of deep learning-based image registration.
The meninges, located between the skull and brain, are composed of three membrane layers: the pia, the arachnoid, and the dura. Reconstruction of these layers can aid in studying volume differences between patients with neurodegenerative diseases and normal aging subjects. In this work, we use convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to reconstruct surfaces representing meningeal layer boundaries from magnetic resonance (MR) images. We first use the CNNs to predict the signed distance functions (SDFs) representing these surfaces while preserving their anatomical ordering. The marching cubes algorithm is then used to generate continuous surface representations; both the subarachnoid space (SAS) and the intracranial volume (ICV) are computed from these surfaces. The proposed method is compared to a state-of-the-art deformable model-based reconstruction method, and we show that our method can reconstruct smoother and more accurate surfaces using less computation time. Finally, we conduct experiments with volumetric analysis on both subjects with multiple sclerosis and healthy controls. For healthy and MS subjects, ICVs and SAS volumes are found to be significantly correlated to sex (p<0.01) and age (p<0.03) changes, respectively.
Development of MR harmonization has enabled different contrast MRIs to be synthesized while preserving the underlying anatomy. In this paper, we use image harmonization to explore the impact of different T1-w MR contrasts on a state-of-the-art ventricle parcellation algorithm VParNet. We identify an optimal operating contrast (OOC) for ventricle parcellation; by showing that the performance of a pretrained VParNet can be boosted by adjusting contrast to the OOC.
Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) is a non-invasive way of imaging white matter tracts in the human brain. DW-MRIs are usually acquired using echo-planar imaging (EPI) with high gradient fields, which could introduce severe geometric distortions that interfere with further analyses. Most tools for correcting distortion require two minimally weighted DW-MRI images (B0) acquired with different phase-encoding directions, and they can take hours to process per subject. Since a great amount of diffusion data are only acquired with a single phase-encoding direction, the application of existing approaches is limited. We propose a deep learning-based registration approach to correct distortion using only the B0 acquired from a single phase-encoding direction. Specifically, we register undistorted T1-weighted images and distorted B0 to remove the distortion through a deep learning model. We apply a differentiable mutual information loss during training to improve inter-modality alignment. Experiments on the Human Connectome Project dataset show the proposed method outperforms SyN and VoxelMorph on several metrics, and only takes a few seconds to process one subject.
* To appear in Medical Imaging: Image Processing 2023