MRI Texture-Based Recognition of Dystrophy Phase in Golden Retriever Muscular Dystrophy Dogs. Elimination of Features that Evolve along with the Individual’s Growth

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The study investigates the possibility of applying texture analysis (TA) for testing Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) therapies. The work is based on the Golden Retriever Muscular Dystrophy (GRMD) canine model, in which 3 phases of canine growth and/or dystrophy development are identified: the first phase (0–4 months of age), the second phase (from over 4 to 6 months), and the third phase (from over 6 months to death). Two differentiation problems are posed: (i) the first phase vs. the second phase and (ii) the second phase vs. the third phase. Textural features are derived from T2-weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) images. In total, 37 features provided by 8 different TA methods (statistical, filter-based, and model-based) have been tested. The work focuses on finding such textural features that evolve along with the dog’s growth. These features are indicated by means of statistical analyses and eliminated from further investigation, as they may disturb the correct assessment of response to treatment in dystrophy. The relative importance of each remaining feature is then assessed with the use of the Monte Carlo (MC) procedure. Furthermore, feature selection based on the MC procedure is employed to find the optimal subset of age-independent features. Finally, three classifiers are used for evaluating different sets of textural features: Adaptive Boosting (AB), back-propagation Neural Network (NN), and nonlinear Support Vector Machines (SVM). The best subsets of age-independent features ensure 80.0% and 78.5% of correctly identified phases of dystrophy progression, for the first (i) and second (ii) differentiation problem respectively.

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