Purpose: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain allows for the identification of structural lesions typical of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the main cause of dementia. However, to have a clinical impact, it is imperative that acquisition and reporting of this MRI-based evidence be standardized, ensuring the highest possible reliability and reproducibility. Our objective was to validate a systematic radiological MRI acquisition and review process in the context of AD.
Methods: We included 100 individuals with a suspicion of dementia due to AD for whom MRI were acquired using our proposed protocol of clinically achievable acquisitions and used a unified reading grid to gather semi-quantitative evidence guiding diagnostic. MRIs were read by 3 raters with different experience levels. Interrater reliability was measured using Cohen's kappa statistic.
Results: Interrater reliability average for lesions occupying space, hemorrhage, or ischemia, was respectively 0.754, 0.715, and 0.501. Average reliability of white matter hyperintensity burden (Fazekas), global cortical atrophy, and temporal lobe atrophy (Scheltens) scales was 0.687, 0.473, and 0.621 (right)/0.599 (left), respectively. The kappas for regional cortical atrophy (frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal, and posterior cingulum) varied from 0.281-0.678. The average MRI reading time varied between 1.43-5.22 minutes.
Conclusions: The presence of space occupying lesions, hemorrhagic or ischemic phenomena, and radiological scales have a good interrater reproducibility in MRI. Coupled with standardized acquisitions, such a protocol should be used when evaluating possible dementias, especially those due to probable AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Dementias; Global cortical atrophy; Magnetic resonance imaging; Medial temporal lobe atrophy; Neurodegeneration; Space occupying lesions; White matter hyperintensity.
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