Reduced accuracy of MRI deep grey matter segmentation in multiple sclerosis: an evaluation of four automated methods against manual reference segmentations in a multi-center cohort

J Neurol. 2020 Dec;267(12):3541-3554. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10023-1. Epub 2020 Jul 3.


Background: Deep grey matter (DGM) atrophy in multiple sclerosis (MS) and its relation to cognitive and clinical decline requires accurate measurements. MS pathology may deteriorate the performance of automated segmentation methods. Accuracy of DGM segmentation methods is compared between MS and controls, and the relation of performance with lesions and atrophy is studied.

Methods: On images of 21 MS subjects and 11 controls, three raters manually outlined caudate nucleus, putamen and thalamus; outlines were combined by majority voting. FSL-FIRST, FreeSurfer, Geodesic Information Flow and volBrain were evaluated. Performance was evaluated volumetrically (intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC)) and spatially (Dice similarity coefficient (DSC)). Spearman's correlations of DSC with global and local lesion volume, structure of interest volume (ROIV), and normalized brain volume (NBV) were assessed.

Results: ICC with manual volumes was mostly good and spatial agreement was high. MS exhibited significantly lower DSC than controls for thalamus and putamen. For some combinations of structure and method, DSC correlated negatively with lesion volume or positively with NBV or ROIV. Lesion-filling did not substantially change segmentations.

Conclusions: Automated methods have impaired performance in patients. Performance generally deteriorated with higher lesion volume and lower NBV and ROIV, suggesting that these may contribute to the impaired performance.

Keywords: Atrophy; Automated segmentation methods; Deep grey matter; Multiple sclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Gray Matter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / pathology