Fractional segmentation of white matter

Simon K. Warfield, Carl Fredrik Westin, Charles R.G. Guttmann, Marilyn Albert, Ferenc A. Jolesz, Ron Kikinis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


Abnormalities in the white matter of the brain are common to subjects with multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. They also develop in normal, asymptomatic, subjects and appear more frequently with age. Clinically, it is interesting to be able to differentiate between different disease states and to find markers which allow early diagnosis. Conventional spin echo (CSE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is sensitive to these white matter changes and has frequently been applied to their study. Previous approaches to investigate white matter abnormalities have often been reported to have difficulty distinguishing between normal gray matter and abnormal white matter due to their similar appearance in MRI. Earlier methods have also often generated binary classifications, reporting white matter as either normal or abnormal. We have developed a new approach which first identifies the region of white matter using a template moderated spatially varying classification, and then estimates the degree of white matter abnormality present at each voxel of the white matter. This fractional segmentation allows us to preserve the heterogeneous characteristics of white matter abnormalities and to investigate both focal and diffuse white matter damage. We compute, from the fractional segmentation, a white matter spectrum showing the different levels of white matter damage present in each subject. We applied this automated image segmentation method to over 996 MRI scans of subjects affected by multiple sclerosis, 72 normal aging subjects and 29 scans of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease. We investigated the ability to characterize these different subject groups based upon tissue volumes determined by spatially varying classification, and by the fractional segmentation of the white matter of each patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention –MICCAI 1999 - 2nd International Conference, Proceedings
EditorsChris Taylor, Alain Colchester
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)354066503X, 9783540665038
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes
Event2nd International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention, MICCAI 1999 - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: Sep 19 1999Sep 22 1999

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other2nd International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention, MICCAI 1999
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Automatic segmentation
  • Brain
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Normal aging
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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