PURPOSE: Quantitative MRI (qMRI) plays a crucial role for assessing disease progression and treatment response in neuromuscular disorders, but the required MRI sequences are not routinely available in every center. The aim of this study was to predict qMRI values of water T2 (wT2) and fat fraction (FF) from conventional MRI, using texture analysis and machine learning.
METHOD: Fourteen patients affected by Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy were imaged at both thighs using conventional and quantitative MR sequences. Muscle FF and wT2 were calculated for each muscle of the thighs. Forty-seven texture features were extracted for each muscle on the images obtained with conventional MRI. Multiple machine learning regressors were trained to predict qMRI values from the texture analysis dataset.
RESULTS: Eight machine learning methods (linear, ridge and lasso regression, tree, random forest (RF), generalized additive model (GAM), k-nearest-neighbor (kNN) and support vector machine (SVM) provided mean absolute errors ranging from 0.110 to 0.133 for FF and 0.068 to 0.115 for wT2. The most accurate methods were RF, SVM and kNN to predict FF, and tree, RF and kNN to predict wT2.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that it is possible to estimate with good accuracy qMRI parameters starting from texture analysis of conventional MRI.