The ANACONDA algorithm for deformable image registration in radiotherapy




The purpose of this work was to describe a versatile algorithm for deformable image registration with applications in radiotherapy and to validate it on thoracic 4DCT data as well as CT/cone beam CT (CBCT) data.


ANAtomically CONstrained Deformation Algorithm (ANACONDA) combines image information (i.e., intensities) with anatomical information as provided by contoured image sets. The registration problem is formulated as a nonlinear optimization problem and solved with an in-house developed solver, tailored to this problem. The objective function, which is minimized during optimization, is a linear combination of four nonlinear terms: 1. image similarity term; 2. grid regularization term, which aims at keeping the deformed image grid smooth and invertible; 3. a shape based regularization term which works to keep the deformation anatomically reasonable when regions of interest are present in the reference image; and 4. a penalty term which is added to the optimization problem when controlling structures are used, aimed at deforming the selected structure in the reference image to the corresponding structure in the target image.


To validate ANACONDA, the authors have used 16 publically available thoracic 4DCT data sets for which target registration errors from several algorithms have been reported in the literature. On average for the 16 data sets, the target registration error is 1.17 ± 0.87 mm, Dice similarity coefficient is 0.98 for the two lungs, and image similarity, measured by the correlation coefficient, is 0.95. The authors have also validated ANACONDA using two pelvic cases and one head and neck case with planning CT and daily acquired CBCT. Each image has been contoured by a physician (radiation oncologist) or experienced radiation therapist. The results are an improvement with respect to rigid registration. However, for the head and neck case, the sample set is too small to show statistical significance.


ANACONDA performs well in comparison with other algorithms. By including CT/CBCT data in the validation, the various aspects of the algorithm such as its ability to handle different modalities, large deformations, and air pockets are shown.