Image registration is a fundamental medical image analysis task, and a wide variety of approaches have been proposed. However, only a few studies have comprehensively compared medical image registration approaches on a wide range of clinically relevant tasks, in part because of the lack of availability of such diverse data. This limits the development of registration methods, the adoption of research advances into practice, and a fair benchmark across competing approaches. The Learn2Reg challenge addresses these limitations by providing a multi-task medical image registration benchmark for comprehensive characterisation of deformable registration algorithms. A continuous evaluation will be possible at https://learn2reg.grand-challenge.org. Learn2Reg covers a wide range of anatomies (brain, abdomen, and thorax), modalities (ultrasound, CT, MR), availability of annotations, as well as intra- and inter-patient registration evaluation. We established an easily accessible framework for training and validation of 3D registration methods, which enabled the compilation of results of over 65 individual method submissions from more than 20 unique teams. We used a complementary set of metrics, including robustness, accuracy, plausibility, and runtime, enabling unique insight into the current state-of-the-art of medical image registration. This paper describes datasets, tasks, evaluation methods and results of the challenge, and the results of further analysis of transferability to new datasets, the importance of label supervision, and resulting bias.
Deep-learning-based registration methods emerged as a fast alternative to conventional registration methods. However, these methods often still cannot achieve the same performance as conventional registration methods, because they are either limited to small deformation or they fail to handle a superposition of large and small deformations without producing implausible deformation fields with foldings inside. In this paper, we identify important strategies of conventional registration methods for lung registration and successfully developed the deep-learning counterpart. We employ a Gaussian-pyramid-based multilevel framework that can solve the image registration optimization in a coarse-to-fine fashion. Furthermore, we prevent foldings of the deformation field and restrict the determinant of the Jacobian to physiologically meaningful values by combining a volume change penalty with a curvature regularizer in the loss function. Keypoint correspondences are integrated to focus on the alignment of smaller structures. We perform an extensive evaluation to assess the accuracy, the robustness, the plausibility of the estimated deformation fields, and the transferability of our registration approach. We show that it archives state-of-the-art results on the COPDGene dataset compared to the challenge winning conventional registration method with much shorter execution time.