Tagged magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is unique in its ability to noninvasively image the motion and deformation of the heart in vivo, but one of the fundamental reasons limiting its use in the clinical environment is the absence of automated tools to derive clinically useful information from tagged MR images. In this paper, we present a novel and fully automated technique based on nonrigid image registration using multilevel free-form deformations (MFFDs) for the analysis of myocardial motion using tagged MRI. The novel aspect of our technique is its integrated nature for tag localization and deformation field reconstruction using image registration and voxel based similarity measures. To extract the motion field within the myocardium during systole we register a sequence of images taken during systole to a set of reference images taken at end-diastole, maximizing the normalized mutual information between the images. We use both short-axis and long-axis images of the heart to estimate the full four-dimensional motion field within the myocardium. We also present validation results from data acquired from twelve volunteers.
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