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Image processing approaches to enhance perivascular space visibility and quantification using MRI

By Farshid Sepehrband, Giuseppe Barisano, Nasim Sheikh-Bahaei, Ryan P. Cabeen, Jeiran Choupan, Meng Law, Arthur W. Toga

Posted 16 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/609362 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-48910-x)

Imaging the perivascular spaces (PVS), also known as Virchow-Robin space, has significant clinical value, but there remains a need for neuroimaging techniques to improve mapping and quantification of the PVS. Current technique for PVS evaluation is a scoring system based on visual reading of visible PVS in regions of interest, and often limited to large caliber PVS. Enhancing the visibility of the PVS could support medical diagnosis and enable novel neuroscientific investigations. Increasing the MRI resolution is one approach to enhance the visibility of PVS but is limited by acquisition time and physical constraints. Alternatively, image processing approaches can be utilized to improve the contrast ratio between PVS and surrounding tissue. Here we combine T1- and T2-weighted images to enhance PVS contrast, intensifying the visibility of PVS. The Enhanced PVS Contrast (EPC) was achieved by combining T1- and T2-weighted images that were adaptively filtered to remove non-structured high-frequency spatial noise. EPC was evaluated on healthy young adults by presenting them to two expert readers and also through automated quantification. We found that EPC improves the conspicuity of the PVS and aid resolving a larger number of PVS. We also present a highly reliable automated PVS quantification approach, which was optimized using expert readings.

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