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Br J Radiol. 2010 Apr;83(988):307-17. doi: 10.1259/bjr/18575224. Epub 2009 Aug 18.

Application of stereological estimates in patients with severe head injuries using CT and MR scanning images.

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  • 1Research Laboratory for Stereology and Neuroscience, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg. forsklab@bbh.regionh


Severe brain damage is often followed by serious complications. Quantitative measurements, such as regional volume and surface area under various conditions, are essential for understanding functional changes in the brain and assessing prognosis. The affected brain tissue is variable, hence traditional imaging methods are not always applicable and automatic methods may not be able to match the individual observer. Stereological techniques are alternative tools in the quantitative description of biological structures, and have been increasingly applied to the human brain. In the present study, we applied stereological techniques to representative CT and MRI brain scans from five patients to describe how stereological methods, when applied to scans of trauma patients, can provide a useful supplement to the estimation of structural brain changes in head injuries. The reliability of the estimates was tested by obtaining repeated intra- and interobserver estimates of selected subdivisions of the brain in patients with acute head injury, as well as in an MR phantom. The estimates of different subdivisions showed a coefficient of variation (CV) below 12% in the patients and below 7% for phantom estimation. The validity of phantom estimates was tested by the average deviation from the true geometric values, and was below 10%. The stereological methods were compared with more traditional region-based methods performed on medical imaging, which showed a CV below 7% and bias below 14%. It is concluded that the stereological estimates may be useful tools in head injury quantification.

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