Objectives: To assess observer variability of different reference tissues used for relative CBV (rCBV) measurements in DSC-MRI of glioma patients.
Methods: In this retrospective study, three observers measured rCBV in DSC-MR images of 44 glioma patients on two occasions. rCBV is calculated by the CBV in the tumour hotspot/the CBV of a reference tissue at the contralateral side for normalization. One observer annotated the tumour hotspot that was kept constant for all measurements. All observers annotated eight reference tissues of normal white and grey matter. Observer variability was evaluated using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), coefficient of variation (CV) and Bland-Altman analyses.
Results: For intra-observer, the ICC ranged from 0.50-0.97 (fair-excellent) for all reference tissues. The CV ranged from 5.1-22.1 % for all reference tissues and observers. For inter-observer, the ICC for all pairwise observer combinations ranged from 0.44-0.92 (poor-excellent). The CV ranged from 8.1-31.1 %. Centrum semiovale was the only reference tissue that showed excellent intra- and inter-observer agreement (ICC>0.85) and lowest CVs (<12.5 %). Bland-Altman analyses showed that mean differences for centrum semiovale were close to zero.
Conclusion: Selecting contralateral centrum semiovale as reference tissue for rCBV provides the lowest observer variability.
Key points: • Reference tissue selection for rCBV measurements adds variability to rCBV measurements. • rCBV measurements vary depending on the choice of reference tissue. • Observer variability of reference tissue selection varies between poor and excellent. • Centrum semiovale as reference tissue for rCBV provides the lowest observer variability.
Keywords: Cerebral blood volume; Glioma; Magnetic resonance angiography; Observer variation; Perfusion imaging.