Automated segmentation of deep brain nuclei using convolutional neural networks and susceptibility weighted imaging

Vincent Beliveau, Martin Nørgaard, Christoph Birkl, Klaus Seppi, Christoph Scherfler


The advent of susceptibility-sensitive MRI techniques, such as susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI), has enabled accurate in vivo visualization and quantification of iron deposition within the human brain. Although previous approaches have been introduced to segment iron-rich brain regions, such as the substantia nigra, subthalamic nucleus, red nucleus, and dentate nucleus, these methods are largely unavailable and manual annotation remains the most used approach to label these regions. Furthermore, given their recent success in outperforming other segmentation approaches, convolutional neural networks (CNN) promise better performances. The aim of this study was thus to evaluate state-of-the-art CNN architectures for the labeling of deep brain nuclei from SW images. We implemented five CNN architectures and considered ensembles of these models. Furthermore, a multi-atlas segmentation model was included to provide a comparison not based on CNN. We evaluated two prediction strategies: individual prediction, where a model is trained independently for each region, and combined prediction, which simultaneously predicts multiple closely located regions. In the training dataset, all models performed with high accuracy with Dice coefficients ranging from 0.80 to 0.95. The regional SWI intensities and volumes from the models' labels were strongly correlated with those obtained from manual labels. Performances were reduced on the external dataset, but were higher or comparable to the intrarater reliability and most models achieved significantly better results compared to multi-atlas segmentation. CNNs can accurately capture the individual variability of deep brain nuclei and represent a highly useful tool for their segmentation from SW images.

TidsskriftHuman Brain Mapping
Udgave nummer15
Sider (fra-til)4809-4822
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 15 okt. 2021


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