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Inter-scanner reproducibility of brain volumetry: influence of automated brain segmentation software

  • Liu, Sirui1
  • Hou, Bo1
  • Zhang, Yiwei1
  • Lin, Tianye1
  • Fan, Xiaoyuan1
  • You, Hui1
  • Feng, Feng1
  • 1 Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, 100730, China , Beijing (China)
Published Article
BMC Neuroscience
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Sep 04, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s12868-020-00585-1
Springer Nature


BackgroundThe inter-scanner reproducibility of brain volumetry is important in multi-site neuroimaging studies, where the reliability of automated brain segmentation (ABS) tools plays an important role. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of ABS tools on the consistency and reproducibility of the quantified brain volumetry from different scanners.MethodsWe included fifteen healthy volunteers who were scanned with 3D isotropic brain T1-weighted sequence on three different 3.0 Tesla MRI scanners (GE, Siemens and Philips). For each individual, the time span between image acquisitions on different scanners was limited to 1 h. All the T1-weighted images were processed with FreeSurfer v6.0, FSL v5.0 and AccuBrain® with default settings to obtain volumetry of brain tissues (e.g. gray matter) and substructures (e.g. basal ganglia structures) if available. Coefficient of variation (CV) was calculated to test inter-scanner variability in brain volumetry of various structures as quantified by these ABS tools.ResultsThe mean inter-scanner CV values per brain structure among three MRI scanners ranged from 6.946 to 12.29% (mean, 9.577%) for FreeSurfer, 7.245 to 20.98% (mean, 12.60%) for FSL and 1.348 to 8.800% (mean value, 3.546%) for AccuBrain®. In addition, AccuBrain® and FreeSurfer achieved the lowest mean values of region-specific CV between GE and Siemens scanners (from 0.818 to 5.958% for AccuBrain®, and from 0.903 to 7.977% for FreeSurfer), while FSL-FIRST had the lowest mean values of region-specific CV between GE and Philips scanners (from 2.603 to 16.310%). AccuBrain® also had the lowest mean values of region-specific CV between Siemens and Philips scanners (from 1.138 to 6.615%).ConclusionThere is a large discrepancy in the inter-scanner reproducibility of brain volumetry when using different processing software. Image acquisition protocols and selection of ABS tool for brain volumetry quantification have impact on the robustness of results in multi-site studies.

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