Patient-specific model of brain deformation: application to medical image registration.


Adam Wittek, Karol Miller, Ron Kikinis, and Simon K Warfield. 2007. “Patient-specific model of brain deformation: application to medical image registration.” J Biomech, 40, 4, Pp. 919-29. Copy at


This contribution presents finite element computation of the deformation field within the brain during craniotomy-induced brain shift. The results were used to illustrate the capabilities of non-linear (i.e. accounting for both geometric and material non-linearities) finite element analysis in non-rigid registration of pre- and intra-operative magnetic resonance images of the brain. We used patient-specific hexahedron-dominant finite element mesh, together with realistic material properties for the brain tissue and appropriate contact conditions at boundaries. The model was loaded by the enforced motion of nodes (i.e. through prescribed motion of a boundary) at the brain surface in the craniotomy area. We suggest using explicit time-integration scheme for discretised equations of motion, as the computational times are much shorter and accuracy, for practical purposes, the same as in the case of implicit integration schemes. Application of the computed deformation field to register (i.e. align) the pre-operative images with the intra-operative ones indicated that the model very accurately predicts the displacements of the tumour and the lateral ventricles even for limited information about the brain surface deformation. The prediction accuracy improves when information about deformation of not only exposed (during craniotomy) but also unexposed parts of the brain surface is used when prescribing loading. However, it appears that the accuracy achieved using information only about the deformation of the exposed surface, that can be determined without intra-operative imaging, is acceptable. The presented results show that non-linear biomechanical models can complement medical image processing techniques when conducting non-rigid registration. Important advantage of such models over the previously used linear ones is that they do not require unrealistic assumptions that brain deformations are infinitesimally small and brain stress-strain relationship is linear.