For accurate analysis of bone formation and resorption during fracture healing, correct registration of follow-up onto baseline image is required. A per-fragment approach could improve alignment compared to standard registration based on the whole fractured region. In this exploratory study, we tested the effect of fragment size and displacement on a per-fragment registration, and compared the results of this per-fragment registration to the results of the standard registration in two stable fractures and one unstable fracture. To test the effect of fragment size and displacement, high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) scans of three unfractured radii were divided into subvolumes. Different displacements in x-, y, or z-direction or rotations around each axis were applied, and each subvolume was registered onto the initial volume to realign it. Next, registration of follow-up onto baseline scan was performed in two stable and one unstable fracture. After coarsely aligning the follow-up onto the baseline scan, a more accurate registration was performed of the whole fracture, i.e. the standard registration, and of each fracture fragment separately, i.e. per-fragment registration. Alignment was checked using overlay images showing baseline, follow-up and overlap between these scans, and by comparing correlation coefficients between the standard and per-fragment registration. Generally, subvolumes as small as 300 mm3 that were displaced up to 0.82 mm in x- or y-, or up to 1.64 mm in z-direction could be realigned correctly. For the fragments of all fractures, correlation coefficients were higher after per-fragment registration compared to standard registration. Most improvement was found in the unstable fracture and one fragment of the unstable fracture did not align correctly. This exploratory study showed that image registration of individual subvolumes, such as fracture fragments, is feasible in both stable and unstable fractures, and leads to better alignment of these fragments compared to an approach that is based on registration using the whole fractured region. This result is promising for additional analysis of bone formation and resorption in HR-pQCT studies on fracture healing.
- Journal Article