Multiple sclerosis: Using artificial intelligence to expand MRI scan sensitivity

Author: Stanley Cohan, M.D., Ph.D., Providence Multiple Sclerosis Center

Conventional MRI scanning
The advent of MRI scanning of the brain and spinal cord was a giant leap forward in improving the ability to diagnose multiple sclerosis with greater sensitivity and reliability, and to follow patients with MS over time, to determine how effectively their MS is under control. In many cases, MRI may detect important changes in MS disease activity that cannot be detected as changes in a patient’s symptoms or neurological examination. Conventional MRI scanning is now a crucial element in the care of people who have MS.

Artificial intelligence analysis of MRI scans
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a tool that can be used to increase the ability of MRI scans to detect small or gradual changes in brain volume and MS lesion size over time that cannot be appreciated or detected by conventional MRI methods, nor seen by traditional visual inspection of the scans. The artificial intelligence analysis does not replace the radiologist and neurologist in interpreting the scans, but instead is a tool that provides more detailed information that they can use to enhance their ability to observe changes in the MRI scans.

What is Icometrix/Icobrain?
Icometrix is an artificial intelligence program developed by scientists in Belgium that employs artificial intelligence to analyze MRI scans and compare different scans from the same patient. This is now used by the Providence Multiple Sclerosis Center and Providence MRI radiologists to enhance our ability to determine if there have been changes in the brain when compared to previous MRI scans. Sometimes this is not possible because of technical differences between the current and prior scans.

To improve scan comparability, we request that our patients always obtain their scans at the same imaging center because of subtle differences between scanners or their software that could affect the accuracy of scan comparisons.

Presently we are only able to perform the Icometrix analysis on scans obtained at Greater Portland area Providence imaging centers. The Icometrix analysis is performed on routine brain scans, and there are no additional requirements on the part of the patient being scanned.

Benefits of using artificial intelligence/Icometrix technology
Using Icometrix technology, we can detect changes in MRI that may not be seen solely by visual inspection of the routine MRI scan images. Icometrix analysis of changes in brain volume and lesion volumes over time may be used to increase a neurologist’s ability to determine how well a patient’s medication is working. The analysis may also assist in deciding what MS medication to select for treatment.

Icometrix is also a powerful potential clinical research tool that may allow Providence Multiple Sclerosis Center neurologists to compare the long-term benefits of all of the medications we use in a manner that has not been possible in the past. This could deepen and expand our understanding of the therapeutic impact of the  many current and future disease-modifying medications used to treat MS.

To make a referral
Providence Neurological Specialties - East
5050 NE Hoyt St., Suite 315
Portland, OR 97213

Providence Neurological Specialties - West
9135 SW Barnes Road, Suite 461
Portland, OR 97225

Dr. Cohan speaks with KATU about Icometrix

For more information on Icometrix, see here.

About the Author

The inScope content team focuses on bringing you the latest in clinical news from our team of world-class medical providers and physician leaders.

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