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In Biomedical optics express

This work reports a deep-learning based registration algorithm that aligns multi-modal retinal images collected from longitudinal clinical studies to achieve accuracy and robustness required for analysis of structural changes in large-scale clinical data. Deep-learning networks that mirror the architecture of conventional feature-point-based registration were evaluated with different networks that solved for registration affine parameters, image patch displacements, and patch displacements within the region of overlap. The ground truth images for deep learning-based approaches were derived from successful conventional feature-based registration. Cross-sectional and longitudinal affine registrations were performed across color fundus photography (CFP), fundus autofluorescence (FAF), and infrared reflectance (IR) image modalities. For mono-modality longitudinal registration, the conventional feature-based registration method achieved mean errors in the range of 39-53 µm (depending on the modality) whereas the deep learning method with region overlap prediction exhibited mean errors in the range 54-59 µm. For cross-sectional multi-modality registration, the conventional method exhibited gross failures with large errors in more than 50% of the cases while the proposed deep-learning method achieved robust performance with no gross failures and mean errors in the range 66-69 µm. Thus, the deep learning-based method achieved superior overall performance across all modalities. The accuracy and robustness reported in this work provide important advances that will facilitate clinical research and enable a detailed study of the progression of retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

De Silva Tharindu, Chew Emily Y, Hotaling Nathan, Cukras Catherine A