Mass volume measurement in severe head injury: Accuracy and feasibility of two pragmatic methods

Nino Stocchetti, Marco Croci, Diego Spagnoli, Felicetta Gilardoni, Federico Resta, Angelo Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective - To assess the clinical feasibility and the accuracy of two pragmatic methods in comparison with a conventional computer based method of measurement of masses from CT. Methods - Nineteen CT scans of 11 patients with severe head injury, showing 34 traumatic lesions, were examined. The volume of every lesion was digitally measured, then a panel of three examiners independently repeated the measurement using the ellipsoid and the Cavalieri method in random order. Results - All the lesions were identified by all the readers and the mean volume measured by each examiner differed by less than 1.5 ml. The average reading time for each scan was 4 minutes for the ellipsoid and 7 minutes for the Cavalieri method. The average volume of the lesions was 34.2 (SD 35) ml with the digital system, and 38.4 (SD 41) ml and 34.8 (SD 36) ml for the ellipsoid and the Cavalieri readings respectively. The average difference between the applied technique and the digital system was 0.57 (SD 9.99) ml for the Cavalieri direct estimator and 0.20 (SD 15.48) ml for the ellipsoid method. The 95% confidence interval for this difference fell between -2.75 and 3.89 ml for the Cavalieri, and between -4.94 and 5.35 ml for the ellipsoid method. There were 19 lesions > 25 ml; the ellipsoid method identified 16 of them, whereas 17 were classified with the Cavalieri method. When considering individual lesions rather than the average volume, discrepancies were detected with both methods. The ellipsoid method was less precise, especially when extracerebral lesions were measured. Conclusions - Both pragmatic methods are inferior to computer based reading, which is the choice when accurate volume estimation is necessary. However, if a digital volumetric determination of the lesions using a CT computer is not possible, the two pragmatic methods offer an alternative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-17
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000


  • Computed tomography
  • Head injury
  • Mass lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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