Multimodal image registration based on binary gradient angle descriptor



Multimodal image registration plays an important role in image-guided interventions/therapy and atlas building, and it is still a challenging task due to the complex intensity variations in different modalities.


The paper addresses the problem and proposes a simple, compact, fast and generally applicable modality-independent binary gradient angle descriptor (BGA) based on the rationale of gradient orientation alignment. The BGA can be easily calculated at each voxel by coding the quadrant in which a local gradient vector falls, and it has an extremely low computational complexity, requiring only three convolutions, two multiplication operations and two comparison operations. Meanwhile, the binarized encoding of the gradient orientation makes the BGA more resistant to image degradations compared with conventional gradient orientation methods. The BGA can extract similar feature descriptors for different modalities and enable the use of simple similarity measures, which makes it applicable within a wide range of optimization frameworks.


The results for pairwise multimodal and monomodal registrations between various images (T1, T2, PD, T1c, Flair) consistently show that the BGA significantly outperforms localized mutual information. The experimental results also confirm that the BGA can be a reliable alternative to the sum of absolute difference in monomodal image registration. The BGA can also achieve an accuracy of \(1.41\pm 1.1~\hbox {mm}\), similar to that of the SSC, for the deformable registration of inhale and exhale CT scans. Specifically, for the highly challenging deformable registration of preoperative MRI and 3D intraoperative ultrasound images, the BGA achieves a similar registration accuracy of \(2.33\pm 1.2~\hbox {mm}\) compared with state-of-the-art approaches, with a computation time of 18.3 s per case.


The BGA improves the registration performance in terms of both accuracy and time efficiency. With further acceleration, the framework has the potential for application in time-sensitive clinical environments, such as for preoperative MRI and intraoperative US image registration for image-guided intervention.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Mattias P. Heinrich for his help in the implementation of his discrete optimization.

Funding This study has been supported by: the Nation Natural Science Foundation of China (Projects 81271670 and 60972102), the National Science and Technology Support Program (No. 2015BAK31B01), the National High Technology Research and Development Program (2015AA020507), Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (No. 15441905500) and Zhejiang Public Technology Research Program (No. 2016C33120).

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Correspondence to Manning Wang or Zhijian Song.

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Jiang, D., Shi, Y., Yao, D. et al. Multimodal image registration based on binary gradient angle descriptor. Int J CARS 12, 2157–2167 (2017).

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  • Binary gradient angle descriptor
  • Multimodal image registration
  • Intrasubject image registration
  • Hamming distance