A Semiautomatic Method for Multiple Sclerosis Lesion Segmentation on Dual-Echo MR Imaging: Application in a Multicenter Context

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2016 Nov;37(11):2043-2049. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A4874. Epub 2016 Jul 21.


Background and purpose: The automatic segmentation of MS lesions could reduce time required for image processing together with inter- and intraoperator variability for research and clinical trials. A multicenter validation of a proposed semiautomatic method for hyperintense MS lesion segmentation on dual-echo MR imaging is presented.

Materials and methods: The classification technique used is based on a region-growing approach starting from manual lesion identification by an expert observer with a final segmentation-refinement step. The method was validated in a cohort of 52 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, with dual-echo images acquired in 6 different European centers.

Results: We found a mathematic expression that made the optimization of the method independent of the need for a training dataset. The automatic segmentation was in good agreement with the manual segmentation (dice similarity coefficient = 0.62 and root mean square error = 2 mL). Assessment of the segmentation errors showed no significant differences in algorithm performance between the different MR scanner manufacturers (P > .05).

Conclusions: The method proved to be robust, and no center-specific training of the algorithm was required, offering the possibility for application in a clinical setting. Adoption of the method should lead to improved reliability and less operator time required for image analysis in research and clinical trials in MS.