Assessment of kidney volume in polycystic kidney disease using magnetic resonance imaging without contrast medium

Am J Nephrol. 2011;33(2):176-84. doi: 10.1159/000324039. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Background/aims: Total renal volume (TRV) is an important index to evaluate the progression of autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). TRV has been assessed by manually tracing renal contours from CT or MR scans, often employing contrast medium (CM). We developed a fast and nearly automated technique based on the analysis of MR images acquired without CM injection for TRV quantification.

Methods: 30 ADPKD patients underwent MRI. After the selection of one point inside each kidney for the entire volume, the automatic extraction of kidney contours was performed on each acquired slice; the segmentation procedure was based on region growing and on the application of morphological operators and curvature-based motion. The area inside each contour was calculated and TRV was derived. Volume measurements were validated by comparison with measurements obtained by stereology.

Results: TRV estimated in patients was 768 ± 545 ml (range 161-3,111 ml). The automatic measurements were in excellent correlation with the manual ones (r = 0.99, y = x - 0.7), with a small bias and narrow limits of agreement in both absolute (-5 ± 37 ml) and percentage (-0.6 ± 9.6%) terms.

Conclusion: This preliminary study showed the feasibility of a fast and nearly automated method for determining TRV; importantly it does not require the use of potentially nephrotoxic CM.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Automation
  • Contrast Media / pharmacology
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / pathology*
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Dominant / pathology
  • Regression Analysis


  • Contrast Media