In this paper, we present an image processing pipeline for highly accurate registration of postoperative CT to preoperative MR. Our method consists of two steps: a fully automatic pre-alignment using a detection of the skull tip in the CT based on fuzzy connectedness, and an intensity-based rigid registration. The registration uses the Normalized Gradient Fields distance measure in a multilevel Gauss-Newton optimization framework and focuses on a region around the subthalamic nucleus in the MR.
The accuracy of our method was extensively evaluated on 20 DBS datasets from clinical routine and compared with manual expert registrations. For each dataset, three independent registrations were available, thus allowing to relate algorithmic with expert performance. Our method achieved an average registration error of 0.95mm in the target region around the subthalamic nucleus as compared to an inter-observer variability of 1.12 mm. Together with the short registration time of about five seconds on average, our method forms a very attractive package that can be considered ready for clinical use.