Automated assessment of the substantia nigra on susceptibility map-weighted imaging using deep convolutional neural networks for diagnosis of Idiopathic Parkinson's disease

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2021 Apr;85:84-90. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.03.004. Epub 2021 Mar 17.


Objectives: Despite its use in determining nigrostriatal degeneration, the lack of a consistent interpretation of nigrosome 1 susceptibility map-weighted imaging (SMwI) limits its generalized applicability. To implement and evaluate a diagnostic algorithm based on convolutional neural networks for interpreting nigrosome 1 SMwI for determining nigrostriatal degeneration in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD).

Methods: In this retrospective study, we enrolled 267 IPD patients and 160 control subjects (125 patients with drug-induced parkinsonism and 35 healthy subjects) at our institute, and 24 IPD patients and 27 control subjects at three other institutes on approval of the local institutional review boards. Dopamine transporter imaging served as the reference standard for the presence or absence of abnormalities of nigrosome 1 on SMwI. Diagnostic performance was compared between visual assessment by an experienced neuroradiologist and the developed deep learning-based diagnostic algorithm in both internal and external datasets using a bootstrapping method with 10000 re-samples by the "pROC" package of R (version 1.16.2).

Results: The area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC) (95% confidence interval [CI]) per participant by the bootstrap method was not significantly different between visual assessment and the deep learning-based algorithm (internal validation, .9622 [0.8912-1.0000] versus 0.9534 [0.8779-0.9956], P = .1511; external validation, 0.9367 [0.8843-0.9802] versus 0.9208 [0.8634-0.9693], P = .6267), indicative of a comparable performance to visual assessment.

Conclusions: Our deep learning-based algorithm for assessing abnormalities of nigrosome 1 on SMwI was found to have a comparable performance to that of an experienced neuroradiologist.

Keywords: Deep learning; Magnetic resonance imaging; Nigrosome; Substantia nigra.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Deep Learning*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted* / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted* / standards
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / standards
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substantia Nigra / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tropanes


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Tropanes
  • 2-carbomethoxy-8-(3-fluoropropyl)-3-(4-iodophenyl)tropane