Estimation of Multiple Sclerosis lesion age on magnetic resonance imaging

Neuroimage. 2021 Jan 15:225:117451. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117451. Epub 2020 Oct 16.


We introduce the first-ever statistical framework for estimating the age of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) lesions from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Estimating lesion age is an important step when studying the longitudinal behavior of MS lesions and can be used in applications such as studying the temporal dynamics of chronic active MS lesions. Our lesion age estimation models use first order radiomic features over a lesion derived from conventional T1 (T1w) and T2 weighted (T2w) and fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR), T1w with gadolinium contrast (T1w+c), and Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM) MRI sequences as well as demographic information. For this analysis, we have a total of 32 patients with 53 new lesions observed at 244 time points. A one or two step random forest model for lesion age is fit on a training set using a lesion volume cutoff of 15 mm3 or 50 mm3. We explore the performance of nine different modeling scenarios that included various combinations of the MRI sequences and demographic information and a one or two step random forest models, as well as simpler models that only uses the mean radiomic feature from each MRI sequence. The best performing model on a validation set is a model that uses a two-step random forest model on the radiomic features from all of the MRI sequences with demographic information using a lesion volume cutoff of 50 mm3. This model has a mean absolute error of 7.23 months (95% CI: [6.98, 13.43]) and a median absolute error of 5.98 months (95% CI: [5.26, 13.25]) in the validation set. For this model, the predicted age and actual age have a statistically significant association (p-value <0.001) in the validation set.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Gadolinium
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium