Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
URL with Digital Object Identifier
Disorders of consciousness (DOC) are a consequence of a variety of severe brain injuries. DOC commonly results in anatomical brain modifications, which can affect cortical and sub-cortical brain structures. Postmortem studies suggest that severity of brain damage correlates with level of impairment in DOC. In-vivo studies in neuroimaging mainly focus in alterations on single structures. Recent evidence suggests that rather than one, multiple brain regions can be simultaneously affected by this condition. In other words, DOC may be linked to an underlying cerebral network of structural damage. Recently, geometrical spatial relationships among key sub-cortical brain regions, such as left and right thalamus and brain stem, have been used for the characterization of this network. This approach is strongly supported on automatic segmentation processes, which aim to extract regions of interests without human intervention. Nevertheless, patients with DOC usually present massive structural brain changes. Therefore, segmentation methods may highly influence the characterization of the underlying cerebral network structure. In this work, we evaluate the level of characterization obtained by using the spatial relationships as descriptor of a sub-cortical cerebral network (left and right thalamus) in patients with DOC, when different segmentation approaches are used (FSL, Free-surfer and manual segmentation). Our results suggest that segmentation process may play a critical role for the construction of robust and reliable structural characterization of DOC conditions.