PURPOSE: Accurate segmentation of lung nodules is crucial in the development of imaging biomarkers for predicting malignancy of the nodules. Manual segmentation is time consuming and affected by inter-observer variability. We evaluated the robustness and accuracy of a publically available semiautomatic segmentation algorithm that is implemented in the 3D Slicer Chest Imaging Platform (CIP) and compared it with the performance of manual segmentation. METHODS: CT images of 354 manually segmented nodules were downloaded from the LIDC database. Four radiologists performed the manual segmentation and assessed various nodule characteristics. The semiautomatic CIP segmentation was initialized using the centroid of the manual segmentations, thereby generating four contours for each nodule. The robustness of both segmentation methods was assessed using the region of uncertainty (δ) and Dice similarity index (DSI). The robustness of the segmentation methods was compared using the Wilcoxon-signed rank test (pWilcoxon<0.05). The Dice similarity index (DSIAgree) between the manual and CIP segmentations was computed to estimate the accuracy of the semiautomatic contours. RESULTS: The median computational time of the CIP segmentation was 10 s. The median CIP and manually segmented volumes were 477 ml and 309 ml, respectively. CIP segmentations were significantly more robust than manual segmentations (median δCIP = 14ml, median dsiCIP = 99% vs. median δmanual = 222ml, median dsimanual = 82%) with pWilcoxon~10-16. The agreement between CIP and manual segmentations had a median DSIAgree of 60%. While 13% (47/354) of the nodules did not require any manual adjustment, minor to substantial manual adjustments were needed for 87% (305/354) of the nodules. CIP segmentations were observed to perform poorly (median DSIAgree≈50%) for non-/sub-solid nodules with subtle appearances and poorly defined boundaries. CONCLUSION: Semi-automatic CIP segmentation can potentially reduce the physician workload for 13% of nodules owing to its computational efficiency and superior stability compared to manual segmentation. Although manual adjustment is needed for many cases, CIP segmentation provides a preliminary contour for physicians as a starting point.
Experts have previously postulated a linkage between lupus associated vascular pathology and abnormal brain barriers in the immunopathogenesis of neuropsychiatric lupus. Nevertheless, there are some discrepancies between the experimental evidence, or its interpretation, and the working hypotheses prevalent in this field; specifically, that a primary contributor to neuropsychiatric disease in lupus is permeabilization of the blood brain barrier. In this commonly held view, any contribution of the other known brain barriers, including the blood-cerebrospinal fluid and meningeal barriers, is mostly excluded from the discussion. In this review we will shed light on some of the blood brain barrier hypotheses and try to trace their roots. In addition, we will suggest new research directions to allow for confirmation of alternative interpretations of the experimental evidence linking the pathology of intra-cerebral vasculature to the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric lupus.
OBJECTIVE: We introduce descriptor-based segmentation that extends existing patch-based methods by combining intensities, features, and location information. Since it is unclear which image features are best suited for patch selection, we perform a broad empirical study on a multitude of different features. METHODS: We extend nonlocal means segmentation by including image features and location information. We search larger windows with an efficient nearest neighbor search based on kd-trees. We compare a large number of image features. RESULTS: The best results were obtained for entropy image features, which have not yet been used for patch-based segmentation. We further show that searching larger image regions with an approximate nearest neighbor search and location information yields a significant improvement over the bounded nearest neighbor search traditionally employed in patch-based segmentation methods. CONCLUSION: Features and location information significantly increase the segmentation accuracy. The best features highlight boundaries in the image. SIGNIFICANCE: Our detailed analysis of several aspects of nonlocal means-based segmentation yields new insights about patch and neighborhood sizes together with the inclusion of location information. The presented approach advances the state-of-the-art in the segmentation of parotid glands for radiation therapy planning.
This paper presents an efficient algorithm for large deformation diffeomorphic metric mapping (LDDMM) with geodesic shooting for image registration. We introduce a novel finite dimensional Fourier representation of diffeomorphic deformations based on the key fact that the high frequency components of a diffeomorphism remain stationary throughout the integration process when computing the deformation associated with smooth velocity fields. We show that manipulating high dimensional diffeomorphisms can be carried out entirely in the bandlimited space by integrating the nonstationary low frequency components of the displacement field. This insight substantially reduces the computational cost of the registration problem. Experimental results show that our method is significantly faster than the state-of-the-art diffeomorphic image registration methods while producing equally accurate alignment. We demonstrate our algorithm in two different applications of image registration: neuroimaging and in-utero imaging.
The neural correlates of spaceflight-induced sensorimotor impairments are unknown. Head down-tilt bed rest (HDBR) serves as a microgravity analog because it mimics the headward fluid shift and axial body unloading of spaceflight. We investigated focal brain white matter (WM) changes and fluid shifts during 70 days of 6° HDBR in 16 subjects who were assessed pre (2x), during (3x), and post-HDBR (2x). Changes over time were compared to those in control subjects (n = 12) assessed four times over 90 days. Diffusion MRI was used to assess WM microstructure and fluid shifts. Free-Water Imaging was used to quantify distribution of intracranial extracellular free water (FW). Additionally, we tested whether WM and FW changes correlated with changes in functional mobility and balance measures. HDBR resulted in FW increases in fronto-temporal regions and decreases in posterior-parietal regions that largely recovered by two weeks post-HDBR. WM microstructure was unaffected by HDBR. FW decreases in the post-central gyrus and precuneus correlated negatively with balance changes. We previously reported that gray matter increases in these regions were associated with less HDBR-induced balance impairment, suggesting adaptive structural neuroplasticity. Future studies are warranted to determine causality and underlying mechanisms.
We propose a non-parametric approach for characterizing heterogeneous diseases in large-scale studies. We target diseases where multiple types of pathology present simultaneously in each subject and a more severe disease manifests as a higher level of tissue destruction. For each subject, we model theof local image descriptors as samples generated by an unknown subject-specific probability density. Instead of approximating the probability density via a parametric family, we propose to side step the parametric inference by directly estimating the divergence between subject densities. Our method maps the collection of local image descriptors to a signaturethat is used to predict a clinical measurement. We are able to interpret the prediction of the clinical variable in the population and individual levels by carefully studying the divergences. We illustrate an application this method on simulated data as well as on a large-scale lung CT study of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Our approach outperforms classical methods on both simulated and COPD data and demonstrates the state-of-the-art prediction on an important physiologic measure of airflow (the forced respiratory volume in one second, FEV1).
Diffusion MRI tractography is increasingly used in pre-operative neurosurgical planning to visualize critical fiber tracts. However, a major challenge for conventional tractography, especially in patients with brain tumors, is tracing fiber tracts that are affected by vasogenic edema, which increases water content in the tissue and lowers diffusion anisotropy. One strategy for improving fiber tracking is to use a tractography method that is more sensitive than the traditional single-tensor streamline tractography. We performed experiments to assess the performance of two-tensor unscented Kalman filter (UKF) tractography in edema. UKF tractography fits a diffusion model to the data during fiber tracking, taking advantage of prior information from the previous step along the fiber. We studied UKF performance in a synthetic diffusion MRI digital phantom with simulated edema and in retrospective data from two neurosurgical patients with edema affecting the arcuate fasciculus and corticospinal tracts. We compared the performance of several tractography methods including traditional streamline, UKF single-tensor, and UKF two-tensor. To provide practical guidance on how the UKF method could be employed, we evaluated the impact of using various seed regions both inside and outside the edematous regions, as well as the impact of parameter settings on the tractography sensitivity. We quantified the sensitivity of different methods by measuring the percentage of the patient-specific fMRI activation that was reached by the tractography. We expected that diffusion anisotropy threshold parameters, as well as the inclusion of a free water model, would significantly influence the reconstruction of edematous WM fiber tracts, because edema increases water content in the tissue and lowers anisotropy. Contrary to our initial expectations, varying the fractional anisotropy threshold and including a free water model did not affect the UKF two-tensor tractography output appreciably in these two patient datasets. The most effective parameter for increasing tracking sensitivity was the generalized anisotropy (GA) threshold, which increased the length of tracked fibers when reduced to 0.075. In addition, the most effective seeding strategy was seeding in the whole brain or in a large region outside of the edema. Overall, the main contribution of this study is to provide insight into how UKF tractography can work, using a two-tensor model, to begin to address the challenge of fiber tract reconstruction in edematous regions near brain tumors.
Adrian V Dalca, Katherine L Bouman, William T. Freeman, Natalia S Rost, Mert R Sabuncu, and Polina Golland. 6/2017. “Population Based Image Imputation.” Inf Process Med Imaging, 10265, Pp. 659-671.Abstract
We present an algorithm for creating high resolution anatomically plausible images consistent with acquired clinical brain MRI scans with large inter-slice spacing. Although large databases of clinical images contain a wealth of information, medical acquisition constraints result in sparse scans that miss much of the anatomy. These characteristics often render computational analysis impractical as standard processing algorithms tend to fail when applied to such images. Highly specialized or application-specific algorithms that explicitly handle sparse slice spacing do not generalize well across problem domains. In contrast, our goal is to enable application of existing algorithms that were originally developed for high resolution research scans to significantly undersampled scans. We introduce a model that captures fine-scale anatomical similarity across subjects in clinical image collections and use it to fill in the missing data in scans with large slice spacing. Our experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method outperforms current upsampling methods and promises to facilitate subsequent analysis not previously possible with scans of this quality.
Diffusion imaging is critical for detecting acute brain injury. However, normal apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps change rapidly in early childhood, making abnormality detection difficult. In this article, we explored clinical PACS and electronic healthcare records (EHR) to create age-specific ADC atlases for clinical radiology reference. Using the EHR and three rounds of multiexpert reviews, we found ADC maps from 201 children 0-6 years of age scanned between 2006 and 2013 who had brain MRIs with no reported abnormalities and normal clinical evaluations 2+ years later. These images were grouped in 10 age bins, densely sampling the first 1 year of life (5 bins, including neonates and 4 quarters) and representing the 1-6 year age range (an age bin per year). Unbiased group-wise registration was used to construct ADC atlases for 10 age bins. We used the atlases to quantify (a) cross-sectional normative ADC variations; (b) spatiotemporal heterogeneous ADC changes; and (c) spatiotemporal heterogeneous volumetric changes. The quantified age-specific whole-brain and region-wise ADC values were compared to those from age-matched individual subjects in our study and in multiple existing independent studies. The significance of this study is that we have shown that clinically acquired images can be used to construct normative age-specific atlases. These first of their kind age-specific normative ADC atlases quantitatively characterize changes of myelination-related water diffusion in the first 6 years of life. The quantified voxel-wise spatiotemporal ADC variations provide standard references to assist radiologists toward more objective interpretation of abnormalities in clinical images. Our atlases are available at https://www.nitrc.org/projects/mgh_adcatlases.
We perform a review of the literature in the field of white matter tractography for neurosurgical planning, focusing on those works where tractography was correlated with clinical information such as patient outcome, clinical functional testing, or electro-cortical stimulation. We organize the review by anatomical location in the brain and by surgical procedure, including both supratentorial and infratentorial pathologies, and excluding spinal cord applications. Where possible, we discuss implications of tractography for clinical care, as well as clinically relevant technical considerations regarding the tractography methods. We find that tractography is a valuable tool in variable situations in modern neurosurgery. Our survey of recent reports demonstrates multiple potentially successful applications of white matter tractography in neurosurgery, with progress towards overcoming clinical challenges of standardization and interpretation.
The glymphatic pathway is a system which facilitates continuous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial fluid (ISF) exchange and plays a key role in removing waste products from the rodent brain. Dysfunction of the glymphatic pathway may be implicated in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease. Intriguingly, the glymphatic system is most active during deep wave sleep general anesthesia. By using paramagnetic tracers administered into CSF of rodents, we previously showed the utility of MRI in characterizing a macroscopic whole brain view of glymphatic transport but we have yet to define and visualize the specific flow patterns. Here we have applied an alternative mathematical analysis approach to a dynamic time series of MRI images acquired every 4min over ∼3h in anesthetized rats, following administration of a small molecular weight paramagnetic tracer into the CSF reservoir of the cisterna magna. We use Optimal Mass Transport (OMT) to model the glymphatic flow vector field, and then analyze the flow to find the network of CSF-ISF flow channels. We use 3D visualization computational tools to visualize the OMT defined network of CSF-ISF flow channels in relation to anatomical and vascular key landmarks from the live rodent brain. The resulting OMT model of the glymphatic transport network agrees largely with the current understanding of the glymphatic transport patterns defined by dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI revealing key CSF transport pathways along the ventral surface of the brain with a trajectory towards the pineal gland, cerebellum, hypothalamus and olfactory bulb. In addition, the OMT analysis also revealed some interesting previously unnoticed behaviors regarding CSF transport involving parenchymal streamlines moving from ventral reservoirs towards the surface of the brain, olfactory bulb and large central veins.
In order to bridge microscopic molecular motion with macroscopic diffusion MR signal in complex structures, we propose a general stochastic model for molecular motion in a magnetic field. The Fokker-Planck equation of this model governs the probability density function describing the diffusion-magnetization propagator. From the propagator we derive a generalized version of the Bloch-Torrey equation and the relation to the random phase approach. This derivation does not require assumptions such as a spatially constant diffusion coefficient, or ad hoc selection of a propagator. In particular, the boundary conditions that implicitly incorporate the microstructure into the diffusion MR signal can now be included explicitly through a spatially varying diffusion coefficient. While our generalization is reduced to the conventional Bloch-Torrey equation for piecewise constant diffusion coefficients, it also predicts scenarios in which an additional term to the equation is required to fully describe the MR signal.
The hypothesis that brain pathways form 2D sheet-like structures layered in 3D as "pages of a book" has been a topic of debate in the recent literature. This hypothesis was mainly supported by a qualitative evaluation of "path neighborhoods" reconstructed with diffusion MRI (dMRI) tractography. Notwithstanding the potentially important implications of the sheet structure hypothesis for our understanding of brain structure and development, it is still considered controversial by many for lack of quantitative analysis. A means to quantify sheet structure is therefore necessary to reliably investigate its occurrence in the brain. Previous work has proposed the Lie bracket as a quantitative indicator of sheet structure, which could be computed by reconstructing path neighborhoods from the peak orientations of dMRI orientation density functions. Robust estimation of the Lie bracket, however, is challenging due to high noise levels and missing peak orientations. We propose a novel method to estimate the Lie bracket that does not involve the reconstruction of path neighborhoods with tractography. This method requires the computation of derivatives of the fiber peak orientations, for which we adopt an approach called normalized convolution. With simulations and experimental data we show that the new approach is more robust with respect to missing peaks and noise. We also demonstrate that the method is able to quantify to what extent sheet structure is supported for dMRI data of different species, acquired with different scanners, diffusion weightings, dMRI sampling schemes, and spatial resolutions. The proposed method can also be used with directional data derived from other techniques than dMRI, which will facilitate further validation of the existence of sheet structure.
Implant placement has been widely used in various kinds of surgery. However, accurate intraoperative drilling performance is essential to avoid injury to adjacent structures. Although some commercially-available surgical navigation systems have been approved for clinical applications, these systems are expensive and the source code is not available to researchers. 3D Slicer is a free, open source software platform for the research community of computer-aided surgery. In this study, a loadable module based on Slicer has been developed and validated to support surgical navigation. This research module allows reliable calibration of the surgical drill, point-based registration and surface matching registration, so that the position and orientation of the surgical drill can be tracked and displayed on the computer screen in real time, aiming at reducing risks. In accuracy verification experiments, the mean target registration error (TRE) for point-based and surface-based registration were 0.31±0.06mm and 1.01±0.06mm respectively, which should meet clinical requirements. Both phantom and cadaver experiments demonstrated the feasibility of our surgical navigation software module.
We consider diffusion within pores with general shapes in the presence of spatially linear magnetic field profiles. The evolution of local magnetization of the spin bearing particles can be described by the Bloch-Torrey equation. We study the diffusive process in the eigenbasis of the non-Hermitian Bloch-Torrey operator. It is possible to find expressions for some special temporal gradient waveforms employed to sensitize the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) signal to diffusion. For more general gradient waveforms, we derive an efficient numerical solution by introducing a novel matrix formalism. Compared to previous methods, this new approach requires a fewer number of eigenfunctions to achieve the same accuracy. This shows that these basis functions are better suited to the problem studied. The new framework could provide new important insights into the fundamentals of diffusion sensitization, which could further the development of the field of NMR.
The basal ganglia is part of a complex system of neuronal circuits that play a key role in the integration and execution of motor, cognitive and emotional function in the human brain. Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder of the motor circuit characterized by tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus and the globus pallidus pars interna provides an efficient treatment to reduce symptoms and levodopa-induced side effects in Parkinson's disease patients. While the underlying mechanism of action of DBS is still unknown, the potential modulation of white matter tracts connecting the surgical targets has become an active area of research. With the introduction of advanced diffusion MRI acquisition sequences and sophisticated post-processing techniques, the architecture of the human brain white matter can be explored in vivo. The goal of this study is to investigate the white matter connectivity between the subthalamic nucleus and the globus pallidus. Two multi-fiber tractography methods were used to reconstruct pallido-subthalamic, subthalamo-pallidal and pyramidal fibers in five healthy subjects datasets of the Human Connectome Project. The anatomical accuracy of the tracts was assessed by four judges with expertise in neuroanatomy, functional neurosurgery, and diffusion MRI. The variability among subjects was evaluated based on the fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity of the tracts. Both multi-fiber approaches enabled the detection of complex fiber architecture in the basal ganglia. The qualitative evaluation by experts showed that the identified tracts were in agreement with the expected anatomy. Tract-derived measurements demonstrated relatively low variability among subjects. False-negative tracts demonstrated the current limitations of both methods for clinical decision-making. Multi-fiber tractography methods combined with state-of-the-art diffusion MRI data have the potential to help identify white matter tracts connecting DBS targets in functional neurosurgery intervention.
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.
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.
Jie Luo, Alireza Sedghi, Karteek Popuri, Dana Cobzas, Miaomiao Zhang, Frank Preiswerk, Matthew Toews, Alexandra Golby, Masashi Sugiyama, William III M Wells, and Sarah Frisken. 10/2019. “On the Applicability of Registration Uncertainty.” In MICCAI 2019, LNCS 11765: Pp. 410-9. Shenzhen, China: Springer.Abstract
Estimating the uncertainty in (probabilistic) image registration enables, e.g., surgeons to assess the operative risk based on the trustworthiness of the registered image data. If surgeons receive inaccurately calculated registration uncertainty and misplace unwarranted confidence in the alignment solutions, severe consequences may result. For probabilistic image registration (PIR), the predominant way to quantify the registration uncertainty is using summary statistics of the distribution of transformation parameters. The majority of existing research focuses on trying out different summary statistics as well as means to exploit them. Distinctively, in this paper, we study two rarely examined topics: (1) whether those summary statistics of the transformation distribution most informatively represent the registration uncertainty; (2) Does utilizing the registration uncertainty always be beneficial. We show that there are two types of uncertainties: the transformation uncertainty, Ut, and label uncertainty Ul. The conventional way of using Ut to quantify Ul is inappropriate and can be misleading. By a real data experiment, we also share a potentially critical finding that making use of the registration uncertainty may not always be an improvement.
External-beam radiotherapy followed by high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is the standard-of-care for treating gynecologic cancers. The enhanced soft-tissue contrast provided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) makes it a valuable imaging modality for diagnosing and treating these cancers. However, in contrast to computed tomography (CT) imaging, the appearance of the brachytherapy catheters, through which radiation sources are inserted to reach the cancerous tissue later on, is often variable across images. This paper reports, for the first time, a new deep-learning-based method for fully automatic segmentation of multiple closely spaced brachytherapy catheters in intraoperative MRI. Represented in the data are 50 gynecologic cancer patients treated by MRI-guided HDR brachytherapy. For each patient, a single intraoperative MRI was used. 826 catheters in the images were manually segmented by an expert radiation physicist who is also a trained radiation oncologist. The number of catheters in a patient ranged between 10 and 35. A deep 3D convolutional neural network (CNN) model was developed and trained. In order to make the learning process more robust, the network was trained 5 times, each time using a different combination of shown patients. Finally, each test case was processed by the five networks and the final segmentation was generated by voting on the obtained five candidate segmentations. 4-fold validation was executed and all the patients were segmented. An average distance error of 2.0 ± 3.4 mm was achieved. False positive and false negative catheters were 6.7% and 1.5% respectively. Average Dice score was equal to 0.60 ± 0.17. The algorithm is available for use in the open source software platform 3D Slicer allowing for wide scale testing and research discussion. In conclusion, to the best of our knowledge, fully automatic segmentation of multiple closely spaced catheters from intraoperative MR images was achieved for the first time in gynecological brachytherapy.