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Neuroradiology. 1999 Jul;41(7):493-6.

The assessment of postmortem brain volume; a comparison of stereological and planimetric methodologies.

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  • 1Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


We compared two methods of estimating the volume of 10 formalin-fixed brains using MRI. MRI was performed and total brain volume was then assessed using two distinct techniques: a stereological point-counting technique based on the Cavalieri principle, and an edge-tracing technique. The total brain volumes obtained using these two techniques were similar and correlated closely with each other (r = 0.97). Both methods could be optimised to a similar degree while maintaining the coefficient of error at an acceptably low level. However, the stereological assessment of brain volume required between 20 min and 30 min per brain, depending on the number of points per sampling grid, compared with 1 h per brain using the planimetric method. Thus, while planimetric and stereological approaches yield very similar results, the stereological method has the advantage of greater speed and, therefore, efficiency.

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