Assessment of longitudinal hippocampal atrophy in the first year after ischemic stroke using automatic segmentation techniques

Neuroimage Clin. 2019;24:102008. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2019.102008. Epub 2019 Oct 22.


We assessed first-year hippocampal atrophy in stroke patients and healthy controls using manual and automated segmentations: AdaBoost, FIRST (fsl/v5.0.8), FreeSurfer/v5.3 and v6.0, and Subfields (in FreeSurfer/v6.0). We estimated hippocampal volumes in 39 healthy controls and 124 stroke participants at three months, and 38 controls and 113 stroke participants at one year. We used intra-class correlation, concordance, and reduced major axis regression to assess agreement between automated and 'Manual' estimations. A linear mixed-effect model was used to characterize hippocampal atrophy. Overall, hippocampal volumes were reduced by 3.9% in first-ever stroke and 9.2% in recurrent stroke at three months post-stroke, with comparable ipsi-and contra-lesional reductions in first-ever stroke. Mean atrophy rates between time points were 0.5% for controls and 1.0% for stroke patients (0.6% contra-lesionally, 1.4% ipsi-lesionally). Atrophy rates in left and right-hemisphere strokes were comparable. All methods revealed significant volume change in first-ever and ipsi-lesional stroke (p < 0.001). Hippocampal volume estimation was not impacted by hemisphere, study group, or scan time point, but rather, by the interaction between the automated segmentation method and hippocampal size. Compared to Manual, Subfields and FIRST recorded the lowest bias. FreeSurfer/v5.3 overestimated volumes the most for large hippocampi, while FIRST was the most accurate in estimating small volumes. AdaBoost performance was average. Our findings suggest that first-year ipsi-lesional hippocampal atrophy rate especially in first-ever stroke, is greater than atrophy rates in healthy controls and contra-lesional stroke. Subfields and FIRST can complementarily be effective in characterizing the hippocampal atrophy in healthy and stroke cohorts.

Keywords: Freesurfer; Hippocampal atrophy; Linear mixed-effect model; Magnetic resonance imaging; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / pathology*