WE-AB-BRA-09: Registration of Preoperative MRI to Intraoperative Radiographs for Automatic Vertebral Target Localization




Accurate localization of target vertebrae is essential to safe, effective spine surgery, but wrong-level surgery occurs with surprisingly high frequency. Recent research yielded the “LevelCheck” method for 3D-2D registration of preoperative CT to intraoperative radiographs, providing decision support for level localization. We report a new method (MR-LevelCheck) to perform 3D-2D registration based on preoperative MRI, presenting a solution for the increasingly common scenario in which MRI (not CT) is used for preoperative planning.


Direct extension of LevelCheck is confounded by large mismatch in image intensity between MRI and radiographs. The proposed method overcomes such challenges with a simple vertebrae segmentation. Using seed points at centroids, vertebrae are segmented using continuous max-flow method and dilated by 1.8 mm to include surrounding cortical bone (inconspicuous in T2w-MRI). MRI projections are computed (analogous to DRR) using segmentation and registered to intraoperative radiographs. The method was tested in a retrospective IRB-approved study involving 11 patients undergoing cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine surgery following preoperative MRI. Registration accuracy was evaluated in terms of projection-distance-error (PDE) between the true and estimated location of vertebrae in each radiograph.


The method successfully registered each preoperative MRI to intraoperative radiographs and maintained desirable properties of robustness against image content mismatch, and large capture range. Segmentation achieved Dice coefficient = 89.2 ± 2.3 and mean-absolute-distance (MAD) = 1.5 ± 0.3 mm. Registration demonstrated robust performance under realistic patient variations, with PDE = 4.0 ± 1.9 mm (median ± iqr) and converged with run-time = 23.3 ± 1.7 s.


The MR-LevelCheck algorithm provides an important extension to a previously validated decision support tool in spine surgery by extending its utility to preoperative MRI. With initial studies demonstrating PDE <5 mm and 0% failure rate, the method is now in translation to larger scale prospective clinical studies.

S. Vogt and G. Kleinszig are employees of Siemens Healthcare