Machine learning in prenatal MRI predicts postnatal ventricular abnormalities in fetuses with isolated ventriculomegaly

Eur Radiol. 2024 May 10. doi: 10.1007/s00330-024-10785-6. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: To evaluate the intracranial structures and brain parenchyma radiomics surrounding the occipital horn of the lateral ventricle in normal fetuses (NFs) and fetuses with ventriculomegaly (FVs), as well as to predict postnatally enlarged lateral ventricle alterations in FVs.

Methods: Between January 2014 and August 2023, 141 NFs and 101 FVs underwent 1.5 T balanced steady-state free precession (BSSFP), including 68 FVs with resolved lateral ventricles (FVM-resolved) and 33 FVs with stable lateral ventricles (FVM-stable). Demographic data and intracranial structures were analyzed. To predict the enlarged ventricle alterations of FVs postnatally, logistic regression models with 5-fold cross-validation were developed based on lateral ventricle morphology, blended-cortical or/and subcortical radiomics characteristics. Validation of the models' performance was conducted using the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC), calibration curve, and decision curve analysis (DCA).

Results: Significant alterations in cerebral structures were observed between NFs and FVs (p < 0.05), excluding the maximum frontal horn diameter (FD). However, there was no notable distinction between the FVM-resolved and FVM-stable groups (all p > 0.05). Based on subcortical-radiomics on the aberrant sides of FVs, this approach exhibited high efficacy in distinguishing NFs from FVs in the training/validation set, yielding an impressive AUC of 1/0.992. With an AUC value of 0.822/0.743 in the training/validation set, the Subcortical-radiomics model demonstrated its ability to predict lateral ventricle alterations in FVs, which had the greatest predictive advantages indicated by DCA.

Conclusions: Microstructural alterations in subcortical parenchyma associated with ventriculomegaly can serve as predictive indicators for postnatal lateral ventricle variations in FVs.

Clinical relevance statement: It is critical to gain pertinent information from a solitary fetal MRI to anticipate postnatal lateral ventricle alterations in fetuses with ventriculomegaly. This approach holds the potential to diminish the necessity for recurrent prenatal ultrasound or MRI examinations.

Key points: Fetal ventriculomegaly is a dynamic condition that affects postnatal neurodevelopment. Machine learning and subcortical-radiomics can predict postnatal alterations in the lateral ventricle. Machine learning, applied to single-fetal MRI, might reduce required antenatal testing.

Keywords: Fetal ventriculomegaly; Machine learning; Magnetic resonance imaging; Prediction; Radiomics.