Objectives: We aimed to volumetrically quantify endolymph and perilymph spaces of the inner ear in order to establish a methodological basis for further investigations into the pathophysiology and therapeutic monitoring of Menière's disease.
Methods: Sixteen patients (eight females, aged 38-71 years) with definite unilateral Menière's disease were included in this study. Magnetic resonance (MR) cisternography with a T2-SPACE sequence was combined with a Real reconstruction inversion recovery (Real-IR) sequence for delineation of inner ear fluid spaces. Machine learning and automated local thresholding segmentation algorithms were applied for three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction and volumetric quantification of endolymphatic hydrops. Test-retest reliability was assessed by the intra-class coefficient; correlation of cochlear endolymph volume ratio with hearing function was assessed by the Pearson correlation coefficient.
Results: Endolymph volume ratios could be reliably measured in all patients, with a mean (range) value of 15% (2-25) for the cochlea and 28% (12-40) for the vestibulum. Test-retest reliability was excellent, with an intra-class coefficient of 0.99. Cochlear endolymphatic hydrops was significantly correlated with hearing loss (r = 0.747, p = 0.001).
Conclusions: MR imaging after local contrast application and image processing, including machine learning and automated local thresholding, enable the volumetric quantification of endolymphatic hydrops. This allows for a quantitative assessment of the effect of therapeutic interventions on endolymphatic hydrops.
Key points: • Endolymphatic hydrops is the pathological hallmark of Menière's disease. • Endolymphatic hydrops can be visualized by locally enhanced ultra-high-resolution MR imaging. • Computer-aided image processing enables quantification of endolymphatic hydrops. • Endolymphatic hydrops correlates with hearing loss in patients with Menière's disease. • Therapeutic trials in Menière's disease can be monitored with this quantitative approach.