Existing volumetric measurements of plexiform neurofibromas (PNs) are time consuming and error prone, as they require delineation of PN boundaries, a procedure that is not practical in the typical clinical setting. The aim of this study is to assess the Plexiform Neurofibroma Instant Segmentation Tool (PNist), a novel semi-automated segmentation program that we developed for PN delineation in a clinical context. PNist was designed to greatly simplify volumetric assessment of PNs through use of an intuitive user interface while providing objectively consistent results with minimal interobserver and intraobserver variabilities in reasonable time.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
PNs were measured in 30 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from 12 patients with neurofibromatosis 1. Volumetric measurements were performed using PNist and compared to a standard semi-automated volumetric method (Analyze 9.0).
High correlation was detected between PNist and the semi-automated method (R 2 = 0.996), with a mean volume overlap error of 9.54 % and low intraobserver and interobserver variabilities. The segmentation time required for PNist was 60 % of the time required for Analyze 9.0 (360 versus 900 s, respectively). PNist was also reliable when assessing changes in tumor size over time, compared to the existing commercial method.
Our study suggests that the new PNist method is accurate, intuitive, and less time consuming for PN segmentation compared to existing commercial volumetric methods. The workflow is simple and user-friendly, making it an important clinical tool to be used by radiologists, neurologists and neurosurgeons on a daily basis, helping them deal with the complex task of evaluating PN burden and progression.