Background: Cerebral microbleeds, visible on gradient-recalled echo (GRE) T2* MRI, have generated increasing interest as an imaging marker of small vessel diseases, with relevance for intracerebral bleeding risk or brain dysfunction.
Methodology/principal findings: Manual rating methods have limited reliability and are time-consuming. We developed a new method for microbleed detection using automated segmentation (MIDAS) and compared it with a validated visual rating system. In thirty consecutive stroke service patients, standard GRE T2* images were acquired and manually rated for microbleeds by a trained observer. After spatially normalizing each patient's GRE T2* images into a standard stereotaxic space, the automated microbleed detection algorithm (MIDAS) identified cerebral microbleeds by explicitly incorporating an "extra" tissue class for abnormal voxels within a unified segmentation-normalization model. The agreement between manual and automated methods was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and Kappa statistic. We found that MIDAS had generally moderate to good agreement with the manual reference method for the presence of lobar microbleeds (Kappa = 0.43, improved to 0.65 after manual exclusion of obvious artefacts). Agreement for the number of microbleeds was very good for lobar regions: (ICC = 0.71, improved to ICC = 0.87). MIDAS successfully detected all patients with multiple (≥2) lobar microbleeds.
Conclusions/significance: MIDAS can identify microbleeds on standard MR datasets, and with an additional rapid editing step shows good agreement with a validated visual rating system. MIDAS may be useful in screening for multiple lobar microbleeds.