In this work we present BIANCA-MS, a novel tool for brain white matter lesion segmentation in multiple sclerosis (MS), able to generalize across both the wide spectrum of MRI acquisition protocols and the heterogeneity of manually labeled data. BIANCA-MS is based on the original version of BIANCA and implements two innovative elements: a harmonized setting, tested under different MRI protocols, which avoids the need to further tune algorithm parameters to each dataset; and a cleaning step developed to improve consistency in automated and manual segmentations, thus reducing unwanted variability in output segmentations and validation data. BIANCA-MS was tested on three datasets, acquired with different MRI protocols. First, we compared BIANCA-MS to other widely used tools. Second, we tested how BIANCA-MS performs in separate datasets. Finally, we evaluated BIANCA-MS performance on a pooled dataset where all MRI data were merged. We calculated the overlap using the DICE spatial similarity index (SI) as well as the number of false positive/negative clusters (nFPC/nFNC) in comparison to the manual masks processed with the cleaning step. BIANCA-MS clearly outperformed other available tools in both high- and low-resolution images and provided comparable performance across different scanning protocols, sets of modalities and image resolutions. BIANCA-MS performance on the pooled dataset (SI: 0.72 ± 0.25, nFPC: 13 ± 11, nFNC: 4 ± 8) were comparable to those achieved on each individual dataset (median across datasets SI: 0.72 ± 0.28, nFPC: 14 ± 11, nFNC: 4 ± 8). Our findings suggest that BIANCA-MS is a robust and accurate approach for automated MS lesion segmentation.
Hum Brain Mapp
MRI, automated lesion segmentation, brain, machine learning, multiple sclerosis