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Why we measure brain volume

Brain atrophy is now seen as significant and clinically relevant feature of pathology in multiple sclerosis (MS). Such atrophy has been observed in all types of MS, with more recent work exploring tissue specific atrophy suggesting that there are differential disease effects upon grey and white matter. Thus not only are global measures of atrophy of value, tissue specific estimates may yield valuable additional information.

The evolution of Magnetic Resonance Imaging acquisition and processing has made it possible to reproducibly calculate brain volumes in vivo. Originally measures were based on partial brain volume measurements, thereafter on absolute brain volume estimates, and more recently on fractions of tissue segments relative to total intracranial volumes. An implementation of the latter methodology has been developed by the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Unit at the Institute of Neurology based on Statistical Parametric Mapping routines, and applied to control subjects and patients with MS (references may be found here)

In making this methodology available through a script that integrates the various stages of the process, we hope that others will find this of use in their own research, and perhaps also develop the method further or seek to remedy its limitations by developing alternative techniques.




Segmented Brain Image

Last modified by Jon Jackson on Mon Dec 8 17:13:19 GMT 2008


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