Toronto Metropolitan University
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Automated Midline Estimation for Symmetry Analysis of Cerebral Hemispheres in FLAIR MRI

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-06, 16:25 authored by Adam Gibicar, Alan R. Moody, April KhademiApril Khademi

To perform brain asymmetry studies in large neuroimaging archives, reliable and automatic detection of the interhemispheric fissure (IF) is needed to first extract the cerebral hemispheres. The detection of the IF is often referred to as mid-sagittal plane estimation, as this plane separates the two cerebral hemispheres. However, traditional planar estimation techniques fail when the IF presents a curvature caused by existing pathology or a natural phenomenon known as brain torque. As a result, midline estimates can be inaccurate. In this study, a fully unsupervised midline estimation technique is proposed that is comprised of three main stages: head angle correction, control point estimation and midline generation. The control points are estimated using a combination of intensity, texture, gradient, and symmetry-based features. As shown, the proposed method automatically adapts to IF curvature, is applied on a slice-to-slice basis for more accurate results and also provides accurate delineation of the midline in the septum pellucidum, which is a source of failure for traditional approaches. The method is compared to two state-of-the-art methods for midline estimation and is validated using 75 imaging volumes (similar to 3,000 imaging slices) acquired from 38 centers of subjects with dementia and vascular disease. The proposed method yields the lowest average error across all metrics: Hausdorff distance (HD) was 0.32 +/- 0.23, mean absolute difference (MAD) was 1.10 +/- 0.38 mm and volume difference was 7.52 +/- 5.40 and 5.35 +/- 3.97 ml, for left and right hemispheres, respectively. Using the proposed method, the midline was extracted for 5,360 volumes (similar to 275K images) from 83 centers worldwide, acquired by GE, Siemens and Philips scanners. An asymmetry index was proposed that automatically detected outlier segmentations (which were <1% of the total dataset). Using the extracted hemispheres, hemispheric asymmetry texture biomarkers of the normal-appearing brain matter (NABM) were analyzed in a dementia cohort, and significant differences in biomarker means were found across SCI and MCI and SCI and AD. 




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