Stochastic rank correlation: a robust merit function for 2D/3D registration of image data obtained at different energies

Wolfgang Birkfellner, Markus Stock, Michael Figl, Christelle Gendrin, Johann Hummel, Shuo Dong, Joachim Kettenbach, Dietmar Georg, Helmar Bergmann

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

47 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, the authors evaluate a merit function for 2D/3D registration called stochastic rank correlation (SRC). SRC is characterized by the fact that differences in image intensity do not influence the registration result; it therefore combines the numerical advantages of cross correlation (CC)-type merit functions with the flexibility of mutual-information-type merit functions. The basic idea is that registration is achieved on a random subset of the image, which allows for an efficient computation of Spearman's rank correlation coefficient. This measure is, by nature, invariant to monotonic intensity transforms in the images under comparison, which renders it an ideal solution for intramodal images acquired at different energy levels as encountered in intrafractional kV imaging in image-guided radiotherapy. Initial evaluation was undertaken using a 2D/3D registration reference image dataset of a cadaver spine. Even with no radiometric calibration, SRC shows a significant improvement in robustness and stability compared to CC. Pattern intensity, another merit function that was evaluated for comparison, gave rather poor results due to its limited convergence range. The time required for SRC with 5% image content compares well to the other merit functions; increasing the image content does not significantly influence the algorithm accuracy. The authors conclude that SRC is a promising measure for 2D/3D registration in IGRT and image-guided therapy in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3420-3428
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional/methods
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Reference Standards
  • Spine/diagnostic imaging
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


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