The effect of gadolinium-based contrast-agents on automated brain atrophy measurements by FreeSurfer in patients with multiple sclerosis
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEuropean Radiology. 2022, 32 (5), 3576-3587. 10.1007/s00330-021-08405-8
Objective To determine whether reliable brain atrophy measures can be obtained from post-contrast 3D T1-weighted images in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) using FreeSurfer. Methods Twenty-two patients with MS were included, in which 3D T1-weighted MR images were obtained during the same scanner visit, with the same acquisition protocol, before and after administration of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs). Two FreeSurfer versions (v.6.0.1 and v.7.1.1.) were applied to calculate grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes and global and regional cortical thickness. The consistency between measures obtained in pre- and post-contrast images was assessed by intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC), the difference was investigated by paired t-tests, and the mean percentage increase or decrease was calculated for total WM and GM matter volume, total deep GM and thalamus volume, and mean cortical thickness. Results Good to excellent reliability was found between all investigated measures, with ICC ranging from 0.926 to 0.996, all p values < 0.001. GM volumes and cortical thickness measurements were significantly higher in post-contrast images by 3.1 to 17.4%, while total WM volume decreased significantly by 1.7% (all p values < 0.001). Conclusion The consistency between values obtained from pre- and post-contrast images was excellent, suggesting it may be possible to extract reliable brain atrophy measurements from T1-weighted images acquired after administration of GBCAs, using FreeSurfer. However, absolute values were systematically different between pre- and post-contrast images, meaning that such images should not be compared directly. Potential systematic effects, possibly dependent on GBCA dose or the delay time after contrast injection, should be investigated.