Registering spherical navigators with spherical harmonic expansions to measure three-dimensional rotations in magnetic resonance imaging

Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Feb;28(2):185-94. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2009.07.010. Epub 2009 Sep 15.


Subject motion remains a challenging problem to overcome in clinical and research applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Subject motion degrades the quality of MR images and the integrity of experimental data. A promising method to correct for subject motion in MRI is the spherical navigator (SNAV) echo. Spherical navigators acquire k-space data on the surface of a sphere in order to measure three-dimensional (3D) rigid-body motion. Analysis begins by registering the magnitude of two SNAVs to determine the 3D rotation between them. Several different methods to register SNAV data exist, each with specific capabilities and limitations. In this study, we assessed the accuracy, precision and computational requirements of measuring rotations about all three coordinate axes by correlating the spherical harmonic expansions of SNAV data. We compare the results of this technique to previous SNAV studies and show that, although computationally expensive, the spherical harmonic technique is a highly accurate, precise and robust method to register SNAVs and detect 3D rotations in MRI. A key advantage to the spherical harmonic technique is the ability to optimize the accuracy, precision, processing time and memory requirements by adjusting parameters used in the registration. While present developments are aimed at improving the programming efficiency and memory handling of the algorithm, this registration technique is currently well suited for retrospective motion correction applications, such as removing motion-related image artifacts and aligning slices within a high-resolution 3D volume.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rotation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity