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In Magnetic resonance imaging

Automatic segmentation of the brain from magnetic resonance images (MRI) is a fundamental step in many neuroimaging processing frameworks. There are mature technologies for this task for T1- and T2-weighted MRI; however, a widely-accepted brain extraction method for Fluid-Attenuated Inversion Recovery (FLAIR) MRI has yet to be established. FLAIR MRI are becoming increasingly important for the analysis of neurodegenerative diseases and tools developed for this sequence would have clinical value. To maximize translation opportunities and for large scale research studies, algorithms for brain extraction in FLAIR MRI should generalize to multi-centre (MC) data. To this end, this work proposes a fully automated, whole volume brain extraction methodology for MC FLAIR MRI datasets. The framework is built using a novel standardization framework which reduces acquisition artifacts, standardizes the intensities of tissues and normalizes the spatial coordinates of brain tissue across MC datasets. Using the standardized datasets, an intuitive set of features based on intensity, spatial location and gradients are extracted and classified using a random forest (RF) classifier to segment the brain tissue class. A series of experiments were conducted to optimize classifier parameters, and to determine segmentation accuracy for standardized and unstandardized (original) data, as a function of scanner vendor, feature type and disease type. The models are trained, tested and validated on 156 image volumes (∼ 8000 image slices) from two multi-centre, multi-disease datasets, acquired with varying imaging parameters from 30 centres and three scanner vendors. The image datasets, denoted as CAIN and ADNI for vascular and dementia disease, respectively, represent a diverse collection of MC data to test the generalization capabilities of the proposed design. Results demonstrate the importance of standardization for segmentation of MC data, as models trained on standardized data yielded a drastic improvement in brain extraction accuracy compared to the original, unstandardized data (CAIN: DSC = 91% and ADNI: DSC = 86% vs. CAIN: 78% and ADNI: 65%). It was also found that models created from one scanner vendor based on unstandardized data yielded poor segmentation results in data acquired from other scanner vendors, which was improved through standardization. These results demonstrate that to create consistency in segmentations from multi-institutional datasets it is paramount that MC variability be mitigated to improve stability and to ensure generalization of machine learning algorithms for MRI.

Khademi April, Reiche Brittany, DiGregorio Justin, Arezza Giordano, Moody Alan R


Brain Extraction, Fluid Attenuation Inversion Recovery (FLAIR) MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Multicenter Studies, Segmentation