Estimating cerebral atrophy in multiple sclerosis patients from various MR pulse sequences

R. Leigh, J. Ostuni, D. Pham, A. Goldszal, B. K. Lewis, T. Howard, N. Richert, H. McFarland, J. A. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine how measures reflecting cerebral atrophy (CA) are influenced by pulse sequence (PS) and segmentation algorithm (SA) used in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and healthy control (HC)s. Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from 10 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients and five HCs were used to determine the change in brain fractional volume (BFV) over a two-year period. T1-weighted, fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR), and proton density (PD)/T2-weighted sequences were analysed. Image segmentation to determine brain volume was performed using the following: a histogram SA, an adaptive fuzzy c-means algorithm (AFCM), and an adaptive Bayesian segmentation with a K-means clustering. Results: Combinations of the SA and PS in MS patients demonstrated significant differences in the per cent change in BFV from baseline. For the combination of PS and SA the per cent change in BFV for year one and year two varied from +2.05% to -1.6% and +0.79% to -3.11%, respectively. Analysis of the HCs data revealed fluctuations in BFV varying from +0.26% to -0.29%. Conclusions: MRI estimates of CA are dependent on both the type of PS and SA; therefore, the choice of SA technique and PS should be consistent during an MS treatment trial. The progression of CA in MS should only be used as a secondary or tertiary outcome measure in treatment trials until a better understanding of how this measurement is affected by the disease, the image acquisition and analysis techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-429
Number of pages10
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral atrophy
  • Clinical trials
  • Image segmentation
  • MRI
  • MS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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