Quantitative folding pattern analysis of early primary sulci in human fetuses with brain abnormalities

K. Im, A. Guimaraes, Y. Kim, E. Cottrill, B. Gagoski, C. Rollins, C. Ortinau, E. Yang, P. E. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Aberrant gyral folding is a key feature in the diagnosis of many cerebral malformations. However, in fetal life, it is particularly challenging to confidently diagnose aberrant folding because of the rapid spatiotemporal changes of gyral development. Currently, there is no resource to measure how an individual fetal brain compares with normal spatiotemporal variations. In this study, we assessed the potential for automatic analysis of early sulcal patterns to detect individual fetal brains with cerebral abnormalities. Materials and Methods: Triplane MR images were aligned to create a motion-corrected volume for each individual fetal brain, and cortical plate surfaces were extracted. Sulcal basins were automatically identified on the cortical plate surface and compared with a combined set generated from 9 normal fetal brain templates. Sulcal pattern similarities to the templates were quantified by using multivariate geometric features and intersulcal relationships for 14 normal fetal brains and 5 fetal brains that were proved to be abnormal on postnatal MR imaging. Results were compared with the gyrification index. Results: Significantly reduced sulcal pattern similarities to normal templates were found in all abnormal individual fetuses compared with normal fetuses (mean similarity [normal, abnormal], left: 0.818, 0.752; P < .001; right: 0.810, 0.753; P < .01). Altered location and depth patterns of sulcal basins were the primary distinguishing features. The gyrification index was not significantly different between the normal and abnormal groups. Conclusions: Automated analysis of interrelated patterning of early primary sulci could outperform the traditional gyrification index and has the potential to quantitatively detect individual fetuses with emerging abnormal sulcal patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1455
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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