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Detecting microstructural deviations in individuals with deep diffusion MRI tractometry

By Maxime Chamberland, Sila Genc, Chantal M.W. Tax, Dmitri Shastin, Kristin Koller, Erika P. Raven, Greg D Parker, Khalid Hamandi, William P. Gray, Derek K Jones

Posted 25 Feb 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.23.21252011

Most diffusion MRI (dMRI) studies of disease rely on statistical comparisons between large groups of patients and healthy controls to infer altered tissue state. Such studies often require data from a significant number of patients before robust inferences can be made, and clinical heterogeneity can greatly challenge their discriminative power. Moreover, for clinicians and researchers studying small datasets, rare cases, or individual patients, this approach is clearly inappropriate. There is a clear and unmet need to shift away from the current standard approach of group-wise comparisons to methods with the sensitivity for detection of altered tissue states at the individual level. This would ultimately enable the early detection and interpretation of microstructural abnormalities in individual patients, an important step towards personalised-medicine in translational imaging. To this end, Detect was developed to advance dMRI-based Tractometry towards single-subject analysis. By: 1) operating on the manifold of white matter pathways; and 2) learning normative microstructural features to better discriminate patients from controls, our framework captures idiosyncrasies in patterns along brain white matter pathways in the individual. This novel approach paves the way from traditional group-based comparisons to true personalised radiology, taking microstructural imaging from the bench to the bedside.

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