We report an image segmentation and registration method for studying joint morphology and kinematics from in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and its application to the analysis of foot and ankle joint motion. Using an MRI-compatible positioning device, a foot was scanned in a single neutral and seven other positions ranging from maximum plantar flexion, inversion, and internal rotation to maximum dorsiflexion, eversion, and external rotation. A segmentation method combining graph cuts and level set was developed. In the subsequent registration step, a separate rigid body transformation for each bone was obtained by registering the neutral position dataset to each of the other ones, which produced an accurate description of the motion between them. The segmentation algorithm allowed a user to interactively delineate 14 foot bones in the neutral position volume in less than 30 min total (user and computer processing unit [CPU]) time. Registration to the seven other positions took approximately 10 additional minutes of user time and 5.25 h of CPU time. For validation, our results were compared with those obtained from 3DViewnix, a semiautomatic segmentation program. We achieved excellent agreement, with volume overlap ratios greater than 88% for all bones excluding the intermediate cuneiform and the lesser metatarsals. For the registration of the neutral scan to the seven other positions, the average overlap ratio is 94.25%, while the minimum overlap ratio is 89.49% for the tibia between the neutral position and position 1, which might be due to different fields of view (FOV). To process a single foot in eight positions, our tool requires only minimal user interaction time (less than 30 min total), a level of improvement that has the potential to make joint motion analysis from MRI practical in research and clinical applications.

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