Regional MRI volumetry using NeuroQuant versus visual rating scales in patients with cognitive impairment and dementia

Brain Behav. 2024 Feb;14(2):e3397. doi: 10.1002/brb3.3397.


Background and purpose: The aims were to compare the novel regional brain volumetric measures derived by the automatic software NeuroQuant (NQ) with clinically used visual rating scales of medial temporal lobe atrophy (MTA), global cortical atrophy-frontal (GCA-f), and posterior atrophy (PA) brain regions, assessing their diagnostic validity, and to explore if combining automatic and visual methods would increase diagnostic prediction accuracy.

Methods: Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations from 86 patients with subjective and mild cognitive impairment (i.e., non-dementia, n = 41) and dementia (n = 45) from the Memory Clinic at Oslo University Hospital were assessed using NQ volumetry and with visual rating scales. Correlations, receiver operating characteristic analyses calculating area under the curves (AUCs) for diagnostic accuracy, and logistic regression analyses were performed.

Results: The correlations between NQ volumetrics and visual ratings of corresponding regions were generally high between NQ hippocampi/temporal volumes and MTA (r = -0.72/-0.65) and between NQ frontal volume and GCA-f (r = -0.62) but lower between NQ parietal/occipital volumes and PA (r = -0.49/-0.37). AUCs of each region, separating non-dementia from dementia, were generally comparable between the two methods, except that NQ hippocampi volume did substantially better than visual MTA (AUC = 0.80 vs. 0.69). Combining both MRI methods increased only the explained variance of the diagnostic prediction substantially regarding the posterior brain region.

Conclusions: The findings of this study encourage the use of regional automatic volumetry in locations lacking neuroradiologists with experience in the rating of atrophy typical of neurodegenerative diseases, and in primary care settings.

Keywords: MRI; NeuroQuant; automatic regional volumetry; cognitive impairment; dementia; visual rating scale.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods