Philips and UKE develop computer-aided diagnosis of PET and MRI brain
11 July 2007
Hamburg, Germany. The University Medical Center
Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) and Royal Philips Electronics have developed
software for computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) of PET and MRI imaging of the
brain to aid the identification of neurodegenerative diseases.
The CAD software automatically interprets PET (positron emission
tomography) brain scans of patients suspected of having a neurodegenerative
disease that leads to dementia, and combines them with MRI (magnetic
resonance imaging) scans for accurate differential diagnosis.
The development of such a system will ultimately mean a better quality of
life for patients by enabling earlier prescription of drugs that delay
progression of the disease, and hence delay the worst effects of dementia.
It will also provide pharmaceutical companies and clinicians with a valuable
tool for the development and testing of new, potentially curative drugs for
neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
“In the not too distant
future there is going to be much greater demand for the accurate early
diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease and not everyone will have access to
the clinical expertise of a university hospital to obtain it,” says Dr.
Ralph Buchert of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at UKE. “The
availability of an automated system will help less experienced physicians to
achieve the same high level of accuracy in their diagnoses.”
Dementia is a
debilitating condition that already affects more than 25 million people
worldwide*, the commonest form being Alzheimer’s disease. As the
demographics of world populations increasingly shift towards older age
groups, dementia is widely expected to reach epidemic proportions unless
effective treatments are found for it.
“Building on our expertise in
multi-modal diagnostic imaging, we’ve combined functional and structural
brain-scan information into a fully integrated and easy to use system for
diagnosing the principal neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia,”
says Dr. Lothar Spies, Head of the Digital Imaging Department at Philips
Research. “Ultimately, it will enable early treatment and highly
The software accurately overlays anatomical
images of the brain obtained from MRI scans with PET scans that display
brain activity — specifically the uptake of glucose that fuels brain
activity. By using advanced image processing and computer learning
techniques in combination with a database of reference brain-scans, the
system then analyses the images automatically and displays anomalous brain
patterns in a concise way. Based on these patterns, it then suggests a
diagnosis. As a result, the system will help less experienced doctors to
achieve the same diagnostic accuracy as highly trained specialists.
new diagnostic technique, which has already proven its accuracy using
historical image data and known patient outcomes, is about to undergo
clinical evaluation at UKE.
The clinical evaluation will run the CAD
system alongside UKE’s existing dementia diagnosis procedures with the aim
of fine-tuning the system’s ability to detect and differentiate the three
most common types of neurodegenerative disease — Alzheimer’s Disease,
Lewy-body Dementia and Frontotemporal Dementia.