BACKGROUND: Pulmonary insufficiency is a consequence of transannular patch repair in Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) leading to late morbidity and mortality. Transcatheter native outflow tract pulmonary valve replacement has become a reality. However, predicting a secure, atraumatic implantation of a catheter-based device remains a significant challenge due to the complex and dynamic nature of the right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT). We sought to quantify the differences in compression and volume for actual implants, and those predicted by pre-implant modeling. METHODS: We used custom software to interactively place virtual transcatheter pulmonary valves (TPVs) into RVOT models created from pre-implant and post Harmony valve implant CT scans of 5 ovine surgical models of TOF to quantify and visualize device volume and compression. RESULTS: Virtual device placement visually mimicked actual device placement and allowed for quantification of device volume and radius. On average, simulated proximal and distal device volumes and compression did not vary statistically throughout the cardiac cycle (P = 0.11) but assessment was limited by small sample size. In comparison to actual implants, there was no significant pairwise difference in the proximal third of the device (P > 0.80), but the simulated distal device volume was significantly underestimated relative to actual device implant volume (P = 0.06). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that pre-implant modeling which assumes a rigid vessel wall may not accurately predict the degree of distal RVOT expansion following actual device placement. We suggest the potential for virtual modeling of TPVR to be a useful adjunct to procedural planning, but further development is needed.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with exposure to repetitive head impacts. CTE has been linked to disruptions in cognition, mood, and behavior. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of CTE can only be made post-mortem. Neuropathological evidence suggests limbic structures may provide an opportunity to characterize CTE in the living. Using 3 T magnetic resonance imaging, we compared select limbic brain regional volumes - the amygdala, hippocampus, and cingulate gyrus - between symptomatic former National Football League (NFL) players (n = 86) and controls (n = 22). Moreover, within the group of former NFL players, we examined the relationship between those limbic structures and neurobehavioral functioning (n = 75). The former NFL group comprised eighty-six men (mean age = 55.2 ± 8.0 years) with at least 12 years of organized football experience, at least 2 years of active participation in the NFL, and self-reported declines in cognition, mood, and behavior within the last 6 months. The control group consisted of men (mean age = 57.0 ± 6.6 years) with no history of contact-sport involvement or traumatic brain injury. All control participants provided neurobehavioral data. Compared to controls, former NFL players exhibited reduced volumes of the amygdala, hippocampus, and cingulate gyrus. Within the NFL group, reduced bilateral cingulate gyrus volume was associated with worse attention and psychomotor speed (r = 0.4 (right), r = 0.42 (left); both p < 0.001), while decreased right hippocampal volume was associated with worse visual memory (r = 0.25, p = 0.027). Reduced volumes of limbic system structures in former NFL players are associated with neurocognitive features of CTE. Volume reductions in the amygdala, hippocampus, and cingulate gyrus may be potential biomarkers of neurodegeneration in those at risk for CTE.
Computational methods are crucial for the analysis of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. Computational diffusion MRI can provide rich information at many size scales, including local microstructure measures such as diffusion anisotropies or apparent axon diameters, whole-brain connectivity information that describes the brain's wiring diagram and population-based studies in health and disease. Many of the diffusion MRI analyses performed today were not possible five, ten or twenty years ago, due to the requirements for large amounts of computer memory or processor time. In addition, mathematical frameworks had to be developed or adapted from other fields to create new ways to analyze diffusion MRI data. The purpose of this review is to highlight recent computational and statistical advances in diffusion MRI and to put these advances into context by comparison with the more traditional computational methods that are in popular clinical and scientific use. We aim to provide a high-level overview of interest to diffusion MRI researchers, with a more in-depth treatment to illustrate selected computational advances.
A reliable Ultrasound (US)-to-US registration method to compensate for brain shift would substantially improve Image-Guided Neurological Surgery. Developing such a registration method is very challenging, due to factors such as the tumor resection, the complexity of brain pathology and the demand for fast computation. We propose a novel feature-driven active registration framework. Here, landmarks and their displacement are first estimated from a pair of US images using corresponding local image features. Subsequently, a Gaussian Process (GP) model is used to interpolate a dense deformation field from the sparse landmarks. Kernels of the GP are estimated by using variograms and a discrete grid search method. If necessary, the user can actively add new landmarks based on the image context and visualization of the uncertainty measure provided by the GP to further improve the result. We retrospectively demonstrate our registration framework as a robust and accurate brain shift compensation solution on clinical data.
We propose a new iterative segmentation model which can be accurately learned from a small dataset. A common approach is to train a model to directly segment an image, requiring a large collection of manually annotated images to capture the anatomical variability in a cohort. In contrast, we develop a segmentation model that recursively evolves a segmentation in several steps, and implement it as a recurrent neural network. We learn model parameters by optimizing the intermediate steps of the evolution in addition to the final segmentation. To this end, we train our segmentation propagation model by presenting incomplete and/or inaccurate input segmentations paired with a recommended next step. Our work aims to alleviate challenges in segmenting heart structures from cardiac MRI for patients with congenital heart disease (CHD), which encompasses a range of morphological deformations and topological changes. We demonstrate the advantages of this approach on a dataset of 20 images from CHD patients, learning a model that accurately segments individual heart chambers and great vessels. Compared to direct segmentation, the iterative method yields more accurate segmentation for patients with the most severe CHD malformations.
This paper presents a novel approach to modeling the pos terior distribution in image registration that is computationally efficient for large deformation diffeomorphic metric mapping (LDDMM). We develop a Laplace approximation of Bayesian registration models entirely in a bandlimited space that fully describes the properties of diffeomorphic transformations. In contrast to current methods, we compute the inverse Hessian at the mode of the posterior distribution of diffeomorphisms directly in the low dimensional frequency domain. This dramatically reduces the computational complexity of approximating posterior marginals in the high dimensional imaging space. Experimental results show that our method is significantly faster than the state-of-the-art diffeomorphic image registration uncertainty quantification algorithms, while producing comparable results. The efficiency of our method strengthens the feasibility in prospective clinical applications, e.g., real- time image-guided navigation for brain surgery.
Understanding the neuropathological underpinnings of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder is an essential step towards the development of targeted treatments. Diffusion MRI studies utilizing the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) model have been extremely successful to date in identifying microstructural brain abnormalities in individuals suffering from mental illness, especially in regions of white matter, although identified abnormalities have been biologically non-specific. Building on DTI's success, in recent years more advanced diffusion MRI methods have been developed and applied to the study of psychiatric populations, with the aim of offering increased sensitivity to subtle neurological abnormalities, as well as improved specificity to candidate pathologies such as demyelination and neuroinflammation. These advanced methods, however, usually come at the cost of prolonged imaging sequences or reduced signal to noise, and they are more difficult to evaluate compared with the more simplified approach taken by the now common DTI model. To date, a limited number of advanced diffusion MRI methods have been employed to study schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder populations. In this review we survey these studies, compare findings across diverse methods, discuss the main benefits and limitations of the different methods, and assess the extent to which the application of more advanced diffusion imaging approaches has led to novel and transformative information with regards to our ability to better understand the etiology and pathology of mental disorders.
Diffusion MRI (dMRI) is a valuable tool in the assessment of tissue microstructure. By fitting a model to the dMRI signal it is possible to derive various quantitative features. Several of the most popular dMRI signal models are expansions in an appropriately chosen basis, where the coefficients are determined using some variation of least-squares. However, such approaches lack any notion of uncertainty, which could be valuable in e.g. group analyses. In this work, we use a probabilistic interpretation of linear least-squares methods to recast popular dMRI models as Bayesian ones. This makes it possible to quantify the uncertainty of any derived quantity. In particular, for quantities that are affine functions of the coefficients, the posterior distribution can be expressed in closed-form. We simulated measurements from single- and double-tensor models where the correct values of several quantities are known, to validate that the theoretically derived quantiles agree with those observed empirically. We included results from residual bootstrap for comparison and found good agreement. The validation employed several different models: Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Mean Apparent Propagator MRI (MAP-MRI) and Constrained Spherical Deconvolution (CSD). We also used in vivo data to visualize maps of quantitative features and corresponding uncertainties, and to show how our approach can be used in a group analysis to downweight subjects with high uncertainty. In summary, we convert successful linear models for dMRI signal estimation to probabilistic models, capable of accurate uncertainty quantification.
Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) is an important method for studying white matter connectivity in the brain in vivo in both healthy and clinical populations. Improvements in dMRI tractography algorithms, which reconstruct macroscopic three-dimensional white matter fiber pathways, have allowed for methodological advances in the study of white matter; however, insufficient attention has been paid to comparing post-tractography methods that extract white matter fiber tracts of interest from whole-brain tractography. Here we conduct a comparison of three representative and conceptually distinct approaches to fiber tract delineation: 1) a manual multiple region of interest-based approach, 2) an atlas-based approach, and 3) a groupwise fiber clustering approach, by employing methods that exemplify these approaches to delineate the arcuate fasciculus, the middle longitudinal fasciculus, and the uncinate fasciculus in 10 healthy male subjects. We enable qualitative comparisons across methods, conduct quantitative evaluations of tract volume, tract length, mean fractional anisotropy, and true positive and true negative rates, and report measures of intra-method and inter-method agreement. We discuss methodological similarities and differences between the three approaches and the major advantages and drawbacks of each, and review research and clinical contexts for which each method may be most apposite. Emphasis is given to the means by which different white matter fiber tract delineation approaches may systematically produce variable results, despite utilizing the same input tractography and reliance on similar anatomical knowledge.
This work presents an automatically annotated fiber cluster (AAFC) method to enable identification of anatomically meaningful white matter structures from the whole brain tractography. The proposed method consists of 1) a study-specific whole brain white matter parcellation using a well-established data-driven groupwise fiber clustering pipeline to segment tractography into multiple fiber clusters, and 2) a novel cluster annotation method to automatically assign an anatomical tract annotation to each fiber cluster by employing cortical parcellation information across multiple subjects. The novelty of the AAFC method is that it leverages group-wise information about the fiber clusters, including their fiber geometry and cortical terminations, to compute a tract anatomical label for each cluster in an automated fashion. We demonstrate the proposed AAFC method in an application of investigating white matter abnormality in emotional processing and sensorimotor areas in major depressive disorder (MDD). Seven tracts of interest related to emotional processing and sensorimotor functions are automatically identified using the proposed AAFC method as well as a comparable method that uses a cortical parcellation alone. Experimental results indicate that our proposed method is more consistent in identifying the tracts across subjects and across hemispheres in terms of the number of fibers. In addition, we perform a between-group statistical analysis in 31 MDD patients and 62 healthy subjects on the identified tracts using our AAFC method. We find statistical differences in diffusion measures in local regions within a fiber tract (e.g. 4 fiber clusters within the identified left hemisphere cingulum bundle (consisting of 14 clusters) are significantly different between the two groups), suggesting the ability of our method in identifying potential abnormality specific to subdivisions of a white matter structure.
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 data sets of clinical images contain a wealth of information, time constraints during acquisition result in sparse scans that fail to capture much of the anatomy. These characteristics often render computational analysis impractical as many image analysis algorithms tend to fail when applied to such images. Highly specialized algorithms that explicitly handle sparse slice spacing do not generalize well across problem domains. In contrast, we aim to enable application of existing algorithms that were originally developed for high resolution research scans to significantly undersampled scans. We introduce a generative model that captures fine-scale anatomical structure across subjects in clinical image collections and derive an algorithm for filling in the missing data in scans with large inter-slice spacing. Our experimental results demonstrate that the resulting method outperforms state-of-the-art upsampling super-resolution techniques, and promises to facilitate subsequent analysis not previously possible with scans of this quality. Our implementation is freely available at https://github.com/adalca/papago.
Thalamic atrophy has been associated with exposure to repetitive head impacts (RHI) in professional fighters. The aim of this study is to investigate whether or not age at first exposure (AFE) to RHI is associated with thalamic volume in symptomatic former National Football League (NFL) players at risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Eighty-six symptomatic former NFL players (mean age = 54.9 ± 7.9 years) were included. T1-weighted data were acquired on a 3T magnetic resonance imager, and thalamic volumes were derived using FreeSurfer. Mood and behavior, psychomotor speed, and visual and verbal memory were assessed. The association between thalamic volume and AFE to playing football and to number of years playing was calculated. Decreased thalamic volume was associated with more years of play (left: p = 0.03; right: p = 0.03). Younger AFE was associated with decreased right thalamic volume (p = 0.014). This association remained significant after adjusting for total years of play. Decreased left thalamic volume was associated with worse visual memory (p = 0.014), whereas increased right thalamic volume was associated with fewer mood and behavior symptoms (p = 0.003). In our sample of symptomatic former NFL players at risk for CTE, total years of play and AFE were associated with decreased thalamic volume. The effect of AFE on right thalamic volume was almost twice as strong as the effect of total years of play. Our findings confirm previous reports of an association between thalamic volume and exposure to RHI. They suggest further that younger AFE may result in smaller thalamic volume later in life.
Background: Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is the standard for the representation, storage, and communication of medical images and related information. A DICOM file format and communication protocol for pathology have been defined; however, adoption by vendors and in the field is pending. Here, we implemented the essential aspects of the standard and assessed its capabilities and limitations in a multisite, multivendor healthcare network. Methods: We selected relevant DICOM attributes, developed a program that extracts pixel data and pixel-related metadata, integrated patient and specimen-related metadata, populated and encoded DICOM attributes, and stored DICOM files. We generated the files using image data from four vendor-specific image file formats and clinical metadata from two departments with different laboratory information systems. We validated the generated DICOM files using recognized DICOM validation tools and measured encoding, storage, and access efficiency for three image compression methods. Finally, we evaluated storing, querying, and retrieving data over the web using existing DICOM archive software. Results: Whole slide image data can be encoded together with relevant patient and specimen-related metadata as DICOM objects. These objects can be accessed efficiently from files or through RESTful web services using existing software implementations. Performance measurements show that the choice of image compression method has a major impact on data access efficiency. For lossy compression, JPEG achieves the fastest compression/decompression rates. For lossless compression, JPEG-LS significantly outperforms JPEG 2000 with respect to data encoding and decoding speed. Conclusion: Implementation of DICOM allows efficient access to image data as well as associated metadata. By leveraging a wealth of existing infrastructure solutions, the use of DICOM facilitates enterprise integration and data exchange for digital pathology.
This work presents an anatomically curated white matter atlas to enable consistent white matter tract parcellation across different populations. Leveraging a well-established computational pipeline for fiber clustering, we create a tract-based white matter atlas including information from 100 subjects. A novel anatomical annotation method is proposed that leverages population-based brain anatomical information and expert neuroanatomical knowledge to annotate and categorize the fiber clusters. A total of 256 white matter structures are annotated in the proposed atlas, which provides one of the most comprehensive tract-based white matter atlases covering the entire brain to date. These structures are composed of 58 deep white matter tracts including major long range association and projection tracts, commissural tracts, and tracts related to the brainstem and cerebellar connections, plus 198 short and medium range superficial fiber clusters organized into 16 categories according to the brain lobes they connect. Potential false positive connections are annotated in the atlas to enable their exclusion from analysis or visualization. In addition, the proposed atlas allows for a whole brain white matter parcellation into 800 fiber clusters to enable whole brain connectivity analyses. The atlas and related computational tools are open-source and publicly available. We evaluate the proposed atlas using a testing dataset of 584 diffusion MRI scans from multiple independently acquired populations, across genders, the lifespan (1 day-82 years), and different health conditions (healthy control, neuropsychiatric disorders, and brain tumor patients). Experimental results show successful white matter parcellation across subjects from different populations acquired on multiple scanners, irrespective of age, gender or disease indications. Over 99% of the fiber tracts annotated in the atlas were detected in all subjects on average. One advantage in terms of robustness is that the tract-based pipeline does not require any cortical or subcortical segmentations, which can have limited success in young children and patients with brain tumors or other structural lesions. We believe this is the first demonstration of consistent automated white matter tract parcellation across the full lifespan from birth to advanced age.
Coherence and causality measures are often used to analyze the influence of one region on another during analysis of functional brain networks. The analysis methods usually involve a regression problem, where the signal of interest is decomposed into a mixture of regressor and a residual signal. In this paper, we revisit this basic problem and present solutions that provide the minimal-entropy residuals for different types of regression filters, such as causal, instantaneously causal, and noncausal filters. Using optimal prediction theory, we derive several novel frequency-domain expressions for partial coherence, causality, and conditional causality analysis. In particular, our solution provides a more accurate estimation of the frequency-domain causality compared with the classical Geweke causality measure. Using synthetic examples and in vivo resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from the human connectome project, we show that the proposed solution is more accurate at revealing frequency-domain linear dependence among high-dimensional signals.
PURPOSE: Spaceflight negatively affects sensorimotor behavior; exercise mitigates some of these effects. Head down tilt bed rest (HDBR) induces body unloading and fluid shifts, and is often used to investigate spaceflight effects. Here, we examined whether exercise mitigates effects of 70 days HDBR on the brain and if fitness and brain changes with HDBR are related. METHODS: HDBR subjects were randomized to no-exercise (n = 5) or traditional aerobic and resistance exercise (n = 5). Additionally, a flywheel exercise group was included (n = 8). Exercise protocols for exercise groups were similar in intensity, therefore these groups were pooled in statistical analyses. Pre and post-HDBR MRI (structure and structural/functional connectivity) and physical fitness measures (lower body strength, muscle cross sectional area, VO2 max, body composition) were collected. Voxel-wise permutation analyses were used to test group differences in brain changes, and their associations with fitness changes. RESULTS: Comparisons of exercisers to controls revealed that exercise led to smaller fitness deterioration with HDBR but did not affect brain volume or connectivity. Group comparisons showed that exercise modulated post-HDBR recovery of brain connectivity in somatosensory regions. Posthoc analysis showed that this was related to functional connectivity decrease with HDBR in non-exercisers but not in exercisers. Correlational analyses between fitness and brain changes showed that fitness decreases were associated with functional connectivity and volumetric increases (all r >.74), potentially reflecting compensation. Modest brain changes or even decreases in connectivity and volume were observed in subjects who maintained or showed small fitness gains. These results did not survive Bonferroni correction, but can be considered meaningful because of the large effect sizes. CONCLUSION: Exercise performed during HDBR mitigates declines in fitness and strength. Associations between fitness and brain connectivity and volume changes, although unadjusted for multiple comparisons in this small sample, suggest that supine exercise reduces compensatory HDBR-induced brain changes.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has been used extensively to investigate white matter (WM) microstructural changes during healthy adult aging. However, WM fibers are known to shrink throughout the lifespan, leading to larger interstitial spaces with age. This could allow more extracellular free water molecules to bias DTI metrics, which are relied upon to provide WM microstructural information. Using a cohort of 212 participants, we demonstrate that WM microstructural changes in aging are potentially less pronounced than previously reported once the free water compartment is eliminated. After free water elimination, DTI parameters show age-related differences that match histological evidence of myelin degradation and debris accumulation. The fraction of free water is further shown to associate better with age than any of the conventional DTI parameters. Our findings suggest that DTI analyses involving free water are likely to yield novel insight into retrospective re-analysis of data and to answer new questions in ongoing DTI studies of brain aging.
PURPOSE: Matching points that are derived from features or landmarks in image data is a key step in some medical imaging applications. Since most robust point matching algorithms claim to be able to deal with outliers, users may place high confidence in the matching result and use it without further examination. However, for tasks such as feature-based registration in image-guided neurosurgery, even a few mismatches, in the form of invalid displacement vectors, could cause serious consequences. As a result, having an effective tool by which operators can manually screen all matches for outliers could substantially benefit the outcome of those applications. METHODS: We introduce a novel variogram-based outlier screening method for vectors. The variogram is a powerful geostatistical tool for characterizing the spatial dependence of stochastic processes. Since the spatial correlation of invalid displacement vectors, which are considered as vector outliers, tends to behave differently than normal displacement vectors, they can be efficiently identified on the variogram. RESULTS: We validate the proposed method on 9 sets of clinically acquired ultrasound data. In the experiment, potential outliers are flagged on the variogram by one operator and further evaluated by 8 experienced medical imaging researchers. The matching quality of those potential outliers is approximately 1.5 lower, on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (good), than valid displacement vectors. CONCLUSION: The variogram is a simple yet informative tool. While being used extensively in geostatistical analysis, it has not received enough attention in the medical imaging field. We believe there is a good deal of potential for clinically applying the proposed outlier screening method. By way of this paper, we also expect researchers to find variogram useful in other medical applications that involve motion vectors analyses.
Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive breakdown of striatal neurons. Standard white matter integrity measures like fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity derived from diffusion tensor imaging were analyzed in prodromal-HD subjects; however, they studied either a whole brain or specific subcortical white matter structures with connections to cortical motor areas. In this work, we propose a novel analysis of a longitudinal cohort of 243 prodromal-HD individuals and 88 healthy controls who underwent two or more diffusion MRI scans as part of the PREDICT-HD study. We separately trace specific white matter fiber tracts connecting the striatum (caudate and putamen) with four cortical regions corresponding to the hand, face, trunk, and leg motor areas. A multi-tensor tractography algorithm with an isotropic volume fraction compartment allows estimating diffusion of fast-moving extra-cellular water in regions containing crossing fibers and provides quantification of a microstructural property related to tissue atrophy. The tissue atrophy rate is separately analyzed in eight cortico-striatal pathways as a function of CAG-repeats (genetic load) by statistically regressing out age effect from our cohort. The results demonstrate a statistically significant increase in isotropic volume fraction (atrophy) bilaterally in hand fiber connections to the putamen with increasing CAG-repeats, which connects the genetic abnormality (CAG-repeats) to an imaging-based microstructural marker of tissue integrity in specific white matter pathways in HD. Isotropic volume fraction measures in eight cortico-striatal pathways are also correlated significantly with total motor scores and diagnostic confidence levels, providing evidence of their relevance to HD clinical presentation.