A multi-layer perceptron network for perfusion parameter estimation in DCE-MRI studies of the healthy kidney
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionApplied Sciences. 2020, 10 (16), 5525. 10.3390/app10165525
Background: Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) is an imaging technique which helps in visualizing and quantifying perfusion—one of the most important indicators of an organ’s state. This paper focuses on perfusion and filtration in the kidney, whose performance directly influences versatile functions of the body. In clinical practice, kidney function is assessed by measuring glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Estimating GFR based on DCE-MRI data requires the application of an organ-specific pharmacokinetic (PK) model. However, determination of the model parameters, and thus the characterization of GFR, is sensitive to determination of the arterial input function (AIF) and the initial choice of parameter values. Methods: This paper proposes a multi-layer perceptron network for PK model parameter determination, in order to overcome the limitations of the traditional model’s optimization techniques based on non-linear least-squares curve-fitting. As a reference method, we applied the trust-region reflective algorithm to numerically optimize the model. The effectiveness of the proposed approach was tested for 20 data sets, collected for 10 healthy volunteers whose image-derived GFR scores were compared with ground-truth blood test values. Results: The achieved mean difference between the image-derived and ground-truth GFR values was 2.35 mL/min/1.73 m2, which is comparable to the result obtained for the reference estimation method (−5.80 mL/min/1.73 m2). Conclusions: Neural networks are a feasible alternative to the least-squares curve-fitting algorithm, ensuring agreement with ground-truth measurements at a comparable level. The advantages of using a neural network are twofold. Firstly, it can estimate a GFR value without the need to determine the AIF for each individual patient. Secondly, a reliable estimate can be obtained, without the need to manually set up either the initial parameter values or the constraints thereof.