Goal: To estimate hippocampal volumes from in vivo 3D magnetic resonance (MR) brain images and determine inter-rater and intra-rater repeatability. Objective: The precision and repeatability of hippocampal volume estimates using stereologic measurement methods is sought. Design: Five normal control and five schizophrenic subjects were MR scanned using a MPRAGE protocol. Fixed grid stereologic methods were used to estimate hippocampal volumes on a graphics workstation. The images were preprocessed using histogram analysis to standardize 3D MR image scaling from 16 to 8 bits and image volumes were interpolated to 0.5 mm3 isotropic voxels. The following variables were constant for the repeated stereologic measures: grid size, inter-slice distance (1.5 mm), voxel dimensions (0.5 mm3), number of hippocampi measured (10), total number of measurements per rater (40), and number of raters (5). Two grid sizes were tested to determine the coefficient of error associated with the number of sampled "hits" (approximately 140 and 280) on the hippocampus. Starting slice and grid position were randomly varied to assure unbiased volume estimates. Raters were blind to subject identity, diagnosis, and side of the brain from which the image volumes were extracted and the order of subject presentation was randomized for each of the raters. Inter- and intra-rater intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were determined. Results: The data indicate excellent repeatability of fixed grid stereologic hippocampal volume measures when using an inter-slice distance of 1.5 mm and a 6.25 mm2 grid (inter-rater ICCs = 0.86 - 0.97, intra-rater ICCs = 0.85 - 0.97). One major advantage of the current study was the use of 3-D MR data which significantly improved visualization of hippocampal boundaries by providing the ability to access simultaneous orthogonal views while counting stereological marks within the hippocampus. Conclusion: Stereological estimates of 3-D volumes from 2D MR sections provide an inexpensive, unbiased and efficient way of determining brain structural volumes. The high precision and repeatability demonstrated with stereological MR volumetry suggest that these methods may be efficiently used to measure small volume reductions associated with schizophrenia and other brain disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-671
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Sep 9 1994
EventVisualization in Biomedical Computing 1994 - Rochester, United States
Duration: Oct 4 1994Oct 7 1994


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