Pulmonary nodule registration: Rigid or nonrigid?

Suicheng Gu, David Wilson, Jun Tan, Jiantao Pu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: The primary aim of this study is to investigate the performance difference of rigid and nonrigid registration schemes in matching corresponding pulmonary nodules depicted on sequential chest computed tomography (CT) examinations. Methods: A gradient descent based rigid registration algorithm with scaling was developed and it handled the involved geometric transformations (i.e., translation, rescaling, shearing, and rotation) separately instead of optimizing them in a single pass. Given two lung CT examinations, the scaling and translation parameters were simply estimated from the lung volume dimensions (e.g., size and mass center), while the rotation parameters were optimized progressively using gradient descent. To investigate the performance difference of rigid and nonrigid schemes in pulmonary nodule registration, the well-known nonrigid Demons algorithm was implemented and tested along with the developed schemes against 60 diverse low-dose clinical lung CT examinations with average 2-yr follow-up scans. A verified cancer and its correspondence in the follow-up scan as well as their spatial locations (mass center) were identified in each examination. In addition to the computational efficiency, the accuracy of these registration procedures was assessed by computing the Euclidean distances between the corresponding nodules after the registration. To demonstrate the advantage of the developed algorithm, the authors also implemented a fast iterative closest point (ICP) based rigid algorithm and compared their performance. Results: Our experiments on the collected chest CT examinations showed that the nodule registration errors in 3D Euclidean distance for the developed rigid affine approach, the traditional ICP algorithm, and the refining nonrigid Demons algorithm were 9.6, 9.8, and 10.0 mm, respectively, and the corresponding computational costs in time were 5, 300, and 55 s, respectively. Conclusions: A rigid solution may be preferred in practice for the pulmonary nodule registration in longitudinal studies because of its relatively high efficiency and sufficient accuracy for the clinical need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4406-4414
Number of pages9
JournalMedical physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Demons algorithm
  • follow-up study
  • pulmonary nodule
  • rigid/nonrigid registration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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