Tumor segmentation of whole-body magnetic resonance imaging in neurofibromatosis type 1 patients: tumor burden correlates

Michael A. Heffler, Lu Q. Le, Yin Xi, Avneesh Chhabra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Segmentation of whole-body MRI (WBMRI) to assess the feasibility, quantitate the total tumor volume (tumor burden) in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and examine associations with demographic, disease-related and anthropomorphic features. Methods: A consecutive series of patients with NF1 underwent WBMRI and were reviewed for tumors. Tumors were segmented using a semiautomated software-based tool. Tumors were classified as superficial or deep and discrete or plexiform. Segmentation times were recorded. Segmentation yielded the quantity and tumor burden of superficial, internal and plexiform tumors. Correlations between segmentation data and demographic, disease-related and anthropomorphic features were examined. Results: Fifteen patients were evaluated (42.3 ± 13.6 years, 10 female, 5 male). Segmentation times were a median of 30 min and yielded 2,328 tumors (1,582 superficial, 746 internal and 23 plexiform). One tumor was malignant. Tumor counts ranged from 14 to 397. Tumor burden ranged from 6.95 cm3 to 571 cm3. Individual tumor volume ranged from 0.0120 cm3 to 298 cm3. Significant correlation was found between the total volume of superficial tumors and height (ρ = 0.5966, p < 0.02). Male patients had higher overall tumor burdens (p < 0.05) and higher superficial tumor burden (p < 0.03). Patients with negative family history had more tumors (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Segmentation of WBMRI in patients with NF1 is feasible and elucidates meaningful relationships among disease phenotype, anthropomorphic and demographic features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSkeletal Radiology
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 4 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1
  • Segmentation
  • Tumor burden
  • Whole-body MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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