Quantitative brain volume assessment and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) are automated techniques for assessing structural changes in the brain, specifically atrophy. Characteristic atrophy patterns are associated with specific neurodegenerative diseases. This technique allows the assessment of atrophy across large study groups without the need for less reliable visual assessments or a time consuming manual measurement. VBM has been successfully applied to the evaluation of the following diseases:
Dementia and neurodegenerative diseases: The brain volumetry assesses objectively the amount of tissue in the brain and generates a complete report for all brain regions, comparing the results with those of the age-adjusted normal ageing subjects. The results can be used by the neurologists and neuropsychiatrists to guide the diagnosis of different dementia forms and to monitor treatments in conjunction with the clinical symptoms and other laboratory exams or PET imaging. Preliminary evidence suggests that brain volume quantification may reveal more bias-free information than the radiologists' visual interpretations. The technique is more sensitive for detecting subtle signs of brain atrophy, abnormal asymmetry, or progressive atrophy than the traditional radiologist's approach.
Epilepsy: Hippocampus volumetry and voxel-based morphometry can be used to study patients with epilepsy. Areas with reduction or increase of grey and white matter, associated with temporal lobe epilepsy, focal cortical dysplasia or generalized epilepsies can be visualised and the abnormalities can be quantified including also the basal ganglia in patients generalized seizures.
Multiple sclerosis: Automated volumetric MR imaging offers an opportunity to extend brain atrophy measurements to the routine management of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients by showing regional and whole brain atrophy patterns and disease burden, which can be longitudinally followed-up. Automatic methods in patients have the obvious advantage of being consistent and fast when compared to manual or semi-automatic methods. The location and extent of white matter lesions on MRI are important criteria for diagnosis, follow-up and prognosis of MS. Clinical trials have shown that quantitative values, such as lesion volumes, are meaningful in MS prognosis. Our approach is based on cutting-edge algorithms and physicians can use this information to quickly and easily assess the patient disease and the rate of its change. Thus, our reports deliver precise and critical information for the treatment management of patients with MS.