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Identification of high-risk plaque features in intracranial atherosclerosis: initial experience using a radiomic approach.


OBJECTIVES:To evaluate a quantitative radiomic approach based on high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (HR-MRI) to differentiate acute/sub-acute symptomatic basilar artery plaque from asymptomatic plaque. METHODS:Ninety-six patients with basilar artery stenosis underwent HR-MRI between January 2014 and December 2016. Patients were scanned with T1- and T2-weighted imaging, as well as T1 imaging following gadolinium-contrast injection (CE-T1). The stenosis value, plaque area/burden, lumen area, minimal luminal area (MLA), intraplaque haemorrhage (IPH), contrast enhancement ratio and 94 quantitative radiomic features were extracted and compared between acute/sub-acute and asymptomatic patients. Multi-variate logistic analysis and a random forest model were used to evaluate the diagnostic performance. RESULTS:IPH, MLA and enhancement ratio were independently associated with acute/subacute symptoms. Radiomic features in T1 and CE-T1 images were associated with acute/subacute symptoms, but the features from T2 images were not. The combined IPH, MLA and enhancement ratio had an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.833 for identifying acute/sub-acute symptomatic plaques, and the combined T1 and CE-T1 radiomic approach had a significantly higher AUC of 0.936 (p = 0.01). Combining all features achieved an AUC of 0.974 and accuracy of 90.5%. CONCLUSIONS:Radiomic analysis of plaque texture on HR-MRI accurately distinguished between acutely symptomatic and asymptomatic basilar plaques. KEY POINTS:• High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging can assess basilar artery atherosclerotic plaque. • Radiomic features in T1 and CE-T1 images are associated with acute symptoms. • Radiomic analysis can accurately distinguish between acute symptomatic and asymptomatic plaque. • The highest accuracy may be achieved by combining radiomic and conventional features.

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