Quantification of atherosclerotic plaque components using in vivo MRI and supervised classifiers

Hofman, Johannes, Branderhorst, WJ, ten Eikelder, Huub, Cappendijk, Vincent C, Heeneman, Sylvia, Kooi, Marianne Eline, Hilbers, Peter A. J., ter Haar Romeny, B.M.


Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 55 (4), p. 790-799


In this work we aimed to study the possibility of using supervised classifiers to quantify the main components of carotid atherosclerotic plaque in vivo on the basis of multisequence MRI data. MRI data consisting of five MR weightings were obtained from 25 symptomatic subjects. Histological micrographs of endarterectomy specimens from the 25 carotids were used as a standard of reference for training and evaluation. The set of subjects was divided in a training set (12 subjects) and an evaluation set (13 subjects). Four different classifiers and two human MRI readers determined the percentages of calcified tissue, fibrous tissue, lipid core, and intraplaque hemorrhage on the subject level for all subjects in the evaluation set. Quantification of the relatively small amounts of calcium could not be done with statistical significance by either the classifiers or the MRI readers. For the other tissues a simple Bayesian classifier (Bayes) performed better than the other classifiers and the MRI readers. All classifiers performed better than the MRI readers in quantifying the sum of hemorrhage and lipid proportions. The MRI readers overestimated the hemorrhage proportions and tended to underestimate the lipid proportions. In conclusion, this pilot study demonstrates the benefits of algorithmic classifiers for quantifying plaque components.