Evaluating the utility of a postprocessing algorithm for MRI evaluation of optic neuritis

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: MR imaging is useful for the detection and/or confirmation of optic neuritis. The objective of this study was to determine whether a postprocessing algorithm selectively increases the contrast-to-noise ratio of abnormal optic nerves in optic neuritis, facilitating this diagnosis on MR imaging. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this retrospective case-control study, coronal FLAIR images and coronal contrast-enhanced T1WI from 44 patients (31 eyes with clinically confirmed optic neuritis and 28 control eyes) underwent processing using a proprietary postprocessing algorithm designed to detect and visually highlight regions of contiguous increases in signal intensity by increasing the signal intensities of regions that exceed a predetermined threshold. For quantitative evaluation of the effect on image processing, the contrast-to-noise ratio of equivalent ROIs and the contrast-to-noise ratio between optic nerves and normal-appearing white matter were measured on baseline and processed images. The effect of image-processing on diagnostic performance was evaluated by masked reviews of baseline and processed images by 6 readers with varying experience levels. RESULTS: In abnormal nerves, processing resulted in an increase in the median contrast-to-noise ratio from 17.8 to 85.0 (P .001) on FLAIR and from 19.4 to 93.7 (P .001) on contrast-enhanced images. The contrast-to-noise ratio for control optic nerves was not affected by processing (P 0.13). Image processing had a beneficial effect on radiologists’ diagnostic performance, with an improvement in sensitivities for 5/6 readers and relatively unchanged specificities. Interobserver agreement improved following processing. CONCLUSIONS: Processing resulted in a selective increase in the contrast-to-noise ratio for diseased nerves and corresponding improvement in the detection of optic neuritis on MR imaging by radiologists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043-1048
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Volume40
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

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