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LesionQuant for assessment of MRI in multiple sclerosis - a promising supplement to the visual scan inspection

By Synne Brune, Einar A. Høgestøl, Vanja Cengija, Pål Berg-Hansen, Piotr Sowa, Gro Owren Nygaard, Hanne Flinstad Harbo, Mona Kristiansen Beyer

Posted 06 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.01.20048249

Background and goalsMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system inflammatory disease where magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an important tool for diagnosis and disease monitoring. Quantitative measurements of lesion volume, lesion count, distribution of lesions and brain atrophy have a potentially significant value for evaluating disease progression. We hypothesize that utilizing software designed for evaluating MRI data in MS will provide more accurate and detailed analyses compared to the visual neuro-radiological evaluation. MethodsA group of 56 MS patients (mean age 35 years, 70% females and 96% relapsing-remitting MS) was examined with brain MRI one and five years after diagnosis. The T1 and FLAIR brain MRI sequences for all patients were analysed using the LesionQuant(LQ) software. These data were compared with data from structured visual evaluations of the MRI scans performed by a neuro-radiologist, including assessments of atrophy and lesion count. Correlations with clinical tests like the timed 25-foot walk test (T25FT) were performed to explore additional value of LQ analyses. ResultsLesion count assessments by LQ and by the neuro-radiologist were significantly correlated one year (cor=0.92, p=2.2x10-16) and five years (cor=0.84, p=2.7x10-16) after diagnosis. LQ detected a reduction in whole brain percentile >10 in 10 patients across the time-points, whereas the neuro-radiologist assessment identified six of these. The neuro-radiologist additionally identified five patients with increased atrophy in the follow-up period, all of them displayed decreasing low whole brain percentiles (median 11, range 8-28) in the LQ analysis. Significant positive correlation was identified between lesion volume measured by LQ and test performance on the T25FT both at one year and five years after diagnosis. ConclusionFor the number of MS lesions at both time-points, we demonstrated strong correlations between the assessments done by LQ and the neuro-radiologist. Lesion volume evaluated with LQ correlated with T25FT performance. LQ-analyses were more sensitive in capturing brain atrophy than the visual neuro-radiological evaluation. In conclusion, LQ seems like a promising supplement to the evaluation performed by neuro-radiologists, providing an automated tool for evaluating lesions and brain volume in MS patients in both a longitudinal and cross-sectional setting.

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