Purpose: To determine the repeatability and validity of a pattern-matching method for the segmentation and measurement of hippocampi on magnetic resonance (MR) images.
Materials and methods: Comparable two-dimensional MR images obtained in 18 subjects (nine healthy control subjects [six men, three women; aged 24-54 years] and nine patients with schizophrenia [six men, three women; aged 22-61 years]) were twice segmented manually and twice segmented by using pattern matching with digital atlas transformation. The atlas transformation was accomplished in two steps: global followed by local matching. Global matching was performed with use of landmarks; local matching was performed with use of a viscous fluid model.
Results: The mean percentage of difference between two atlas-based measurements was 1.33% +/- 1.23 (+/- standard deviation); that between two manual measurements was 4.67% +/- 4.71. The validity of the atlas transformation measurements was demonstrated by means of the high correlation (intraclass correlation coefficient = .96) with manual segmentation measurements. Schizophrenic hippocampal areas tended to be smaller; however, no differences in hippocampal shape were found between patients with schizophrenia and patients with control subjects.
Conclusion: General pattern matching of a digital brain atlas to an individual MR image is a mathematically robust method of measurement that is reproducible and less variable than manual measurement.