Early postoperative delineation of residual tumor after low-grade glioma resection by probabilistic quantification of diffusion-weighted imaging

J Neurosurg 130:2016–2024, 2019

In WHO grade II low-grade gliomas (LGGs), early postoperative MRI (epMRI) may overestimate residual tumor on FLAIR sequences. Consequently, MRI at 3–6 months follow-up (fuMRI) is used for delineation of residual tumor. This study sought to evaluate if integration of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps permits an accurate estimation of residual tumor early on epMRI.

METHODS From a consecutive cohort, 43 cases with an initial surgery for an LGG, and complete epMRI (< 72 hours after resection) and fuMRI including ADC maps, were retrospectively identified. Residual FLAIR hyperintense tumor was manually segmented on epMRI and corresponding ADC maps were coregistered. Using an expectation maximization algorithm, residual tumor segments were probabilistically clustered into areas of residual tumor, ischemia, or normal white matter (NWM) by fitting a mixture model of superimposed Gaussian curves to the ADC histogram. Tumor volumes from epMRI, clustering, and fuMRI were statistically compared and agreement analysis was performed.

RESULTS Mean FLAIR hyperintensity suggesting residual tumor was significantly larger on epMRI compared to fuMRI (19.4 ± 16.5 ml vs 8.4 ± 10.2 ml, p < 0.0001). Probabilistic clustering of corresponding ADC histograms on epMRI identified subsegments that were interpreted as mean residual tumor (7.6 ± 10.2 ml), ischemia (8.1 ± 5.9 ml), and NWM (3.7 ± 4.9 ml). Therefore, mean tumor quantification error between epMRI and fuMRI was significantly reduced (11.0 ± 10.6 ml vs -0.8 ± 3.7 ml, p < 0.0001). Mean clustered tumor volumes on epMRI were no longer significantly different from the fuMRI reference (7.6 ± 10.2 ml vs 8.4 ± 10.2 ml, p = 0.16). Correlation (Pearson r = 0.96, p < 0.0001), concordance correlation coefficient (0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.83), and Bland-Altman analysis suggested strong agreement between both measures after clustering.

CONCLUSIONS Probabilistic segmentation of ADC maps facilitates accurate assessment of residual tumor within 72 hours after LGG resection. Multiparametric image analysis detected FLAIR signal alterations attributable to surgical trauma, which led to overestimation of residual LGG on epMRI compared to fuMRI. The prognostic value and clinical impact of this method has to be evaluated in larger case series in the future.