Automated 3D MRI volumetry reveals regional atrophy differences in Rasmussen encephalitis

Epilepsia. 2012 Apr;53(4):613-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03396.x. Epub 2012 Feb 6.


Purpose: Rasmussen encephalitis is a chronic immune-mediated disease leading to unilateral atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and progressive neurologic deficits. Until now, quantitative parameters describing the course of the disease on MRI require manual intervention and are, therefore, time-consuming and observer-dependent. Furthermore, regional atrophy differences cannot be evaluated with the previously published methods. In this study we present a fully automated volumetric approach applied to serial MRI scans of 12 patients with Rasmussen encephalitis.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 12 patients with Rasmussen encephalitis with a disease onset between 2001 and 2008. All patients underwent a total of 66 serial MRI scans including a three-dimensional T(1) data set. The volumetric analysis was based on standard procedures of the freely available software FMRIB Software Library (FSL) and required about 45 min per scan. Furthermore, planimetric analyses were performed on 51 scans as described previously.

Key findings: The relative and absolute volume loss of the affected hemisphere was significantly higher compared to the unaffected hemisphere. Referring to regional atrophy differences our results show that the frontal lobe and the insula were preferentially involved in the atrophic process. The degree of hemispheric, parietal, and occipital atrophy was negatively correlated with the age at disease onset, indicating a more aggressive and outspread disease in young children compared to adolescents. Volumetric hemispheric ratio and planimetric hemispheric ratio correlated significantly, but planimetric hemispheric ratio underestimated the real degree of hemiatrophy, especially in patients with predominant affections outside the frontoinsular region.

Significance: The volumetric analysis presented here offers a precise assessment of the disease progression in Rasmussen encephalitis in an observer-independent and time-efficient manner and gives an interesting insight into the course of the disease on MRI. The degree of atrophy evaluated with this method correlates with clinical parameters and is comparable to atrophy rates in patients receiving immunotherapy in preceding planimetric MRI studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age of Onset
  • Atrophy / etiology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Child
  • Encephalitis / complications
  • Encephalitis / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors