Trans-dimensional MCMC methods for fully automatic motion analysis in tagged MRI
Tagged magnetic resonance imaging (tMRI) is a well-known noninvasive method allowing quantitative analysis of regional heart dynamics. Its clinical use has so far been limited, in part due to the lack of robustness and accuracy of existing tag tracking algorithms in dealing with low (and intrinsically time-varying) image quality. In this paper, we propose a novel probabilistic method for tag tracking, implemented by means of Bayesian particle filtering and a trans-dimensional Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) approach, which efficiently combines information about the imaging process and tag appearance with prior knowledge about the heart dynamics obtained by means of non-rigid image registration. Experiments using synthetic image data (with ground truth) and real data (with expert manual annotation) from preclinical (small animal) and clinical (human) studies confirm that the proposed method yields higher consistency, accuracy, and intrinsic tag reliability assessment in comparison with other frequently used tag tracking methods.