Examining the identification of age-related atrophy between T1 and T1 + T2-FLAIR cortical thickness measurements.

Sci Rep 2019 Aug 2;9(1):11288. Epub 2019 Aug 2.

Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

Cortical thickness is traditionally derived from T1-weighted MRI images. Recent studies have shown an improvement in segmentation with the combination of T1 + T2-FLAIR images. MRI data from 54 adults (mean: 71 years, 65-81 years, 48% females) that are part of an ongoing cohort study were analyzed to investigate whether T1 + T2-FLAIR cortical thickness measurements were superior to those derived from T1-weighted images in identifying age-related atrophy. T1-weighted and T2-FLAIR MRI images were processed through FreeSurfer v6.0. Data was extracted using the Desikan-Killiany (DKT) atlas. FreeSurfer's GUI QDEC examined age-related atrophy. Nonparametric tests, effect sizes, and Pearson correlations examined differences between T1-only and T1 + T2-FLAIR cortical thickness data. These analyses demonstrated that T1 + T2-FLAIR processed images significantly improved the segmentation of gray matter (chi-square x, p < 0.05) and demonstrated significantly thicker cortical thickness means (p < 0.05) with medium to large effect sizes. Significant regions of age-related cortical atrophy were identified within the T1 + T2-FLAIR data (FDR corrected, p < 0.05). This is in contrast to the T1-only data where no regions survived FDR correction. In summary, T1 + T2-FLAIR data were associated with significant improvement in cortical segmentation and the identification of age-related cortical atrophy. Future studies should consider employing this imaging strategy to obtain cortical thickness measurements sensitive to age-related changes.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47294-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6677836PMC
August 2019

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