RimNet: A deep 3D multimodal MRI architecture for paramagnetic rim lesion assessment in multiple sclerosis

Objectives In multiple sclerosis (MS), the presence of a paramagnetic rim at the edge of non-gadolinium-enhancing lesions indicates perilesional chronic inflammation. Patients featuring a higher paramagnetic rim lesion burden tend to have more aggressive disease. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a convolutional neural network (CNN) architecture (RimNet) for automated detection of paramagnetic rim lesions in MS employing multiple magnetic resonance (MR) imaging contrasts. Materials and methods Imaging data were acquired at 3 Tesla on three different scanners from two different centers, totaling 124 MS patients, and studied retrospectively. Paramagnetic rim lesion detection was independently assessed by two expert raters on T2*-phase images, yielding 462 rim-positive (rim+) and 4857 rim-negative (rim-) lesions. RimNet was designed using 3D patches centered on candidate lesions in 3D-EPI phase and 3D FLAIR as input to two network branches. The interconnection of branches at both the first network blocks and the last fully connected layers favors the extraction of low and high-level multimodal features, respectively. RimNet’s performance was quantitatively evaluated against experts’ evaluation from both lesion-wise and patient-wise perspectives. For the latter, patients were categorized based on a clinically relevant threshold of 4 rim+ lesions per patient. The individual prediction capabilities of the images were also explored and compared (DeLong test) by testing a CNN trained with one image as input (unimodal). Results The unimodal exploration showed the superior performance of 3D-EPI phase and 3D-EPI magnitude images in the rim+/- classification task (AUC = 0.913 and 0.901), compared to the 3D FLAIR (AUC = 0.855, Ps < 0.0001). The proposed multimodal RimNet prototype clearly outperformed the best unimodal approach (AUC = 0.943, P < 0.0001). The sensitivity and specificity achieved by RimNet (70.6% and 94.9%, respectively) are comparable to those of experts at the lesion level. In the patient-wise analysis, RimNet performed with an accuracy of 89.5% and a Dice coefficient (or F1 score) of 83.5%. Conclusions The proposed prototype showed promising performance, supporting the usage of RimNet for speeding up and standardizing the paramagnetic rim lesions analysis in MS.

Published in:
NeuroImage: Clinical, 28, 102412
Sep 04 2020
This is an open access article under the CC BY license.

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 Record created 2020-09-23, last modified 2020-09-25

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