White Matter Hyperintensity Quantification in Large-scale Clinical Acute Ischemic Stroke Cohorts - The MRI-GENIE Study
Markus D Schirmer, Adrian V Dalca, Ramesh Sridharan, Anne-Katrin Giese, Kathleen L Donahue, Marco J Nardin, Steven JT Mocking, Elissa C McIntosh, Petrea Frid, Johan Wasselius, John W Cole, Lukas Holmegaard, Christina Jern, Jordi Jimenez-Conde, Robin Lemmens, Arne G Lindgren, James F Meschia, Jaume Roquer, Tatjana Rundek, Ralph L Sacco, Reinhold Schmidt, Pankaj Sharma, Agnieszka Slowik, Vincent Thijs, Daniel Woo, Achala Vagal, Huichun Xu, Steven J Kittner, Patrick F McArdle, Braxton D Mitchell, Jonathan Rosand, Bradford B Worrall, Ona Wu, Polina Golland, Natalia S Rost, and Natalia S Rost. 2019. “White Matter Hyperintensity Quantification in Large-scale Clinical Acute Ischemic Stroke Cohorts - The MRI-GENIE Study.” Neuroimage Clin, 23, Pp. 101884.
White matter hyperintensity (WMH) burden is a critically important cerebrovascular phenotype linked to prediction of diagnosis and prognosis of diseases, such as acute ischemic stroke (AIS). However, current approaches to its quantification on clinical MRI often rely on time intensive manual delineation of the disease on T2 fluid attenuated inverse recovery (FLAIR), which hinders high-throughput analyses such as genetic discovery. In this work, we present a fully automated pipeline for quantification of WMH in clinical large-scale studies of AIS. The pipeline incorporates automated brain extraction, intensity normalization and WMH segmentation using spatial priors. We first propose a brain extraction algorithm based on a fully convolutional deep learning architecture, specifically designed for clinical FLAIR images. We demonstrate that our method for brain extraction outperforms two commonly used and publicly available methods on clinical quality images in a set of 144 subject scans across 12 acquisition centers, based on dice coefficient (median 0.95; inter-quartile range 0.94-0.95; p < 0.01) and Pearson correlation of total brain volume (r = 0.90). Subsequently, we apply it to the large-scale clinical multi-site MRI-GENIE study (N = 2783) and identify a decrease in total brain volume of -2.4 cc/year. Additionally, we show that the resulting total brain volumes can successfully be used for quality control of image preprocessing. Finally, we obtain WMH volumes by building on an existing automatic WMH segmentation algorithm that delineates and distinguishes between different cerebrovascular pathologies. The learning method mimics expert knowledge of the spatial distribution of the WMH burden using a convolutional auto-encoder. This enables successful computation of WMH volumes of 2533 clinical AIS patients. We utilize these results to demonstrate the increase of WMH burden with age (0.950 cc/year) and show that single site estimates can be biased by the number of subjects recruited.
PURPOSE: Diffusion encoding with asymmetric gradient waveforms is appealing because the asymmetry provides superior efficiency. However, concomitant gradients may cause a residual gradient moment at the end of the waveform, which can cause significant signal error and image artifacts. The purpose of this study was to develop an asymmetric waveform designs for tensor-valued diffusion encoding that is not sensitive to concomitant gradients. METHODS: The "Maxwell index" was proposed as a scalar invariant to capture the effect of concomitant gradients. Optimization of "Maxwell-compensated" waveforms was performed in which this index was constrained. Resulting waveforms were compared to waveforms from literature, in terms of the measured and predicted impact of concomitant gradients, by numerical analysis as well as experiments in a phantom and in a healthy human brain. RESULTS: Maxwell-compensated waveforms with Maxwell indices below 100 (mT/m) ms showed negligible signal bias in both numerical analysis and experiments. By contrast, several waveforms from literature showed gross signal bias under the same conditions, leading to a signal bias that was large enough to markedly affect parameter maps. Experimental results were accurately predicted by theory. CONCLUSION: Constraining the Maxwell index in the optimization of asymmetric gradient waveforms yields efficient diffusion encoding that negates the effects of concomitant fields while enabling arbitrary shapes of the b-tensor. This waveform design is especially useful in combination with strong gradients, long encoding times, thick slices, simultaneous multi-slice acquisition, and large FOVs.
Motion is a major confound in diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) in the body, and it is a common cause of image artefacts. The effects are particularly severe in cardiac applications, due to the nonrigid cyclical deformation of the myocardium. Spin echo-based DWI commonly employs gradient moment-nulling techniques to desensitise the acquisition to velocity and acceleration, ie, nulling gradient moments up to the 2nd order (M2-nulled). However, current M2-nulled DWI scans are limited to encode diffusion along a single direction at a time. We propose a method for designing b-tensors of arbitrary shapes, including planar, spherical, prolate and oblate tensors, while nulling gradient moments up to the 2nd order and beyond. The design strategy comprises initialising the diffusion encoding gradients in two encoding blocks about the refocusing pulse, followed by appropriate scaling and rotation, which further enables nulling undesired effects of concomitant gradients. Proof-of-concept assessment of in vivo mean diffusivity (MD) was performed using linear and spherical tensor encoding (LTE and STE, respectively) in the hearts of five healthy volunteers. The results of the M2-nulled STE showed that (a) the sequence was robust to cardiac motion, and (b) MD was higher than that acquired using standard M2-nulled LTE, where diffusion-weighting was applied in three orthogonal directions, which may be attributed to the presence of restricted diffusion and microscopic diffusion anisotropy. Provided adequate signal-to-noise ratio, STE could significantly shorten estimation of MD compared with the conventional LTE approach. Importantly, our theoretical analysis and the proposed gradient waveform design may be useful in microstructure imaging beyond diffusion tensor imaging where the effects of motion must be suppressed.
Posterior circulation ischemic stroke (PCiS) constitutes 20-30% of ischemic stroke cases. Detailed information about differences between PCiS and anterior circulation ischemic stroke (ACiS) remains scarce. Such information might guide clinical decision making and prevention strategies. We studied risk factors and ischemic stroke subtypes in PCiS vs. ACiS and lesion location on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in PCiS.
Out of 3,301 MRIs from 12 sites in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Stroke Genetics Network (SiGN), we included 2,381 cases with acute DWI lesions. The definition of ACiS or PCiS was based on lesion location. We compared the groups using Chi-squared and logistic regression.
PCiS occurred in 718 (30%) patients and ACiS in 1663 (70%). Diabetes and male sex were more common in PCiS vs. ACiS (diabetes 27% vs. 23%, p < 0.05; male sex 68% vs. 58%, p < 0.001). Both were independently associated with PCiS (diabetes, OR = 1.29; 95% CI 1.04-1.61; male sex, OR = 1.46; 95% CI 1.21-1.78). ACiS more commonly had large artery atherosclerosis (25% vs. 20%, p < 0.01) and cardioembolic mechanisms (17% vs. 11%, p < 0.001) compared to PCiS. Small artery occlusion was more common in PCiS vs. ACiS (20% vs. 14%, p < 0.001). Small artery occlusion accounted for 47% of solitary brainstem infarctions.
Ischemic stroke subtypes differ between the two phenotypes. Diabetes and male sex have a stronger association with PCiS than ACiS. Definitive MRI-based PCiS diagnosis aids etiological investigation and contributes additional insights into specific risk factors and mechanisms of injury in PCiS.
Although brain functionality is often remarkably robust to lesions and other insults, it may be fragile when these take place in specific locations. Previous attempts to quantify robustness and fragility sought to understand how the functional connectivity of brain networks is affected by structural changes, using either model-based predictions or empirical studies of the effects of lesions. We advance a geometric viewpoint relying on a notion of network curvature, the so-called Ollivier-Ricci curvature. This approach has been proposed to assess financial market robustness and to differentiate biological networks of cancer cells from healthy ones. Here, we apply curvature-based measures to brain structural networks to identify robust and fragile brain regions in healthy subjects. We show that curvature can also be used to track changes in brain connectivity related to age and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and we obtain results that are in agreement with previous MRI studies.
The Human Placenta Project has focused attention on the need for noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based techniques to diagnose and monitor placental function throughout pregnancy. The hope is that the management of placenta-related pathologies would be improved if physicians had more direct, real-time measures of placental health to guide clinical decision making. As oxygen alters signal intensity on MRI and oxygen transport is a key function of the placenta, many of the MRI methods under development are focused on quantifying oxygen transport or oxygen content of the placenta. For example, measurements from blood oxygen level-dependent imaging of the placenta during maternal hyperoxia correspond to outcomes in twin pregnancies, suggesting that some aspects of placental oxygen transport can be monitored by MRI. Additional methods are being developed to accurately quantify baseline placental oxygenation by MRI relaxometry. However, direct validation of placental MRI methods is challenging and therefore animal studies and ex vivo studies of human placentas are needed. Here we provide an overview of the current state of the art of oxygen transport and quantification with MRI. We suggest that as these techniques are being developed, increased focus be placed on ensuring they are robust and reliable across individuals and standardized to enable predictive diagnostic models to be generated from the data. The field is still several years away from establishing the clinical benefit of monitoring placental function in real time with MRI, but the promise of individual personalized diagnosis and monitoring of placental disease in real time continues to motivate this effort.