GraphRegNet: Deep Graph Regularisation Networks on Sparse Keypoints for Dense Registration of 3D Lung CTs

Lasse Hansen*, Mattias P. Heinrich

*Corresponding author for this work
3 Citations (Scopus)


In the last two years learning-based methods have started to show encouraging results in different supervised and unsupervised medical image registration tasks. Deep neural networks enable (near) real time applications through fast inference times and have tremendous potential for increased registration accuracies by task-specific learning. However, estimation of large 3D deformations, for example present in inhale to exhale lung CT or interpatient abdominal MRI registration, is still a major challenge for the widely adopted U-Net-like network architectures. Even when using multi-level strategies, current state-of-the-art DL registration results do not yet reach the high accuracy of conventional frameworks. To overcome the problem of large deformations for deep learning approaches, in this work, we present GraphRegNet, a sparse keypoint-based geometric network for dense deformable medical image registration. Similar to the successful 2D optical flow estimation of FlowNet or PWC-Net we leverage discrete dense displacement maps to facilitate the registration process. In order to cope with enormously increasing memory requirements when working with displacement maps in 3D medical volumes and to obtain a well-regularised and accurate deformation field we 1) formulate the registration task as the prediction of displacement vectors on a sparse irregular grid of distinctive keypoints and 2) introduce our efficient GraphRegNet for displacement regularisation, a combination of convolutional and graph neural network layers in a unified architecture. In our experiments on exhale to inhale lung CT registration we demonstrate substantial improvements (TRE below 1.4 mm) over other deep learning methods. Our code is publicly available at

Original languageEnglish
Article number9406964
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)2246-2257
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 09.2021


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