Quantitative surface analysis of combined MRI and PET enhances detection of focal cortical dysplasias

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Objective:Focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs) often cause pharmacoresistant epilepsy, and surgical resection can lead to seizure-freedom. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) play complementary roles in FCD identification/localization; nevertheless, many FCDs are small or subtle, and difficult to find on routine radiological inspection. We aimed to automatically detect subtle or visually-unidentifiable FCDs by building a classifier based on an optimized cortical surface sampling of combined MRI and PET features.Methods:Cortical surfaces of 28 patients with histopathologically-proven FCDs were extracted. Morphology and intensity-based features characterizing FCD lesions were calculated vertex-wise on each cortical surface, and fed to a 2-step (Support Vector Machine and patch-based) classifier. Classifier performance was assessed compared to manual lesion labels.Results:Our classifier using combined feature selections from MRI and PET outperformed both quantitative MRI and multimodal visual analysis in FCD detection (93% vs 82% vs 68%). No false positives were identified in the controls, whereas 3.4% of the vertices outside FCD lesions were also classified to be lesional (“extralesional clusters”). Patients with type I or IIa FCDs displayed a higher prevalence of extralesional clusters at an intermediate distance to the FCD lesions compared to type IIb FCDs (p < 0.05). The former had a correspondingly lower chance of positive surgical outcome (71% vs 91%).Conclusions:Machine learning with multimodal feature sampling can improve FCD detection. The spread of extralesional clusters characterize different FCD subtypes, and may represent structurally or functionally abnormal tissue on a microscopic scale, with implications for surgical outcomes.

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