Computer-aided evaluation of inflammatory changes over time on MRI of the spine in patients with suspected axial spondyloarthritis: A feasibility study

Evgeni Aizenberg, Rosaline van den Berg, Zineb Ez-Zaitouni, Désirée van der Heijde, Monique Reijnierse, Oleh Dzyubachyk, Boudewijn P.F. Lelieveldt

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Abstract

Background: Evaluating inflammatory changes over time on MR images of the spine in patients with suspected axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA) can be a labor-intensive task, requiring readers to manually search for and perceptually align a set of vertebrae between two scans. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of computer-aided (CA) evaluation of such inflammatory changes in a framework where scans from two time points are fused into a single color-encoded image integrated into an interactive scoring tool. Methods: For 30 patients from the SPondyloArthritis Caught Early (SPACE) cohort (back pain ≥ 3 months, ≤ 2 years, onset < 45 years), baseline and follow-up MR scans acquired 9-12 months apart were fused into a single color-encoded image through locally-rigid image registration to evaluate inflammatory changes in 23 vertebral units (VUs). Scoring was performed by two expert readers on a (-2, 2) scale using an interactive scoring tool. For comparison of direction of change (increase/decrease) indicated by an existing reference, Berlin method scores ((-3, 3) scale) of the same MR scans from a different ongoing study were used. The distributions of VU-level differences between CA readers and between the CA and Berlin methods (sign of change scores) across patients were analyzed descriptively. Patient-level agreement between CA readers was assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Results: Five patients were excluded from evaluation due to failed vertebrae segmentation. Patient-level inter-reader agreement ICC was 0.56 (95% CI: 0.22 to 0.78). Mean VU-level inter-reader differences across 25 patients ranged (-0.04, 0.12) with SD range (0, 0.45). Across all VUs, inter-reader differences ranged (-1, 1) in 573/575 VUs (99.7%). Mean VU-level inter-method differences across patients ranged (-0.04, 0.08) with SD range (0, 0.61). Across all VUs, inter-method differences ranged (-1, 1) in 572/575 VUs (99.5%). Conclusions: Fusion of MR scans of the spine from two time points into a single color-encoded image allows for direct visualization and measurement of inflammatory changes over time in patients with suspected axSpA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number55
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Medical Imaging
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Axial Spondyloarthritis
  • Comparative visualization
  • Image registration
  • Inflammation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

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