In Parkinson’s disease (PD), there is a reduction of neuromelanin (NM) in the substantia nigra (SN). Manual quantification of the NM volume in the SN is unpractical and time-consuming; therefore, we aimed to quantify NM in the SN with a novel semi-automatic segmentation method. Twenty patients with PD and twelve healthy subjects (HC) were included in this study. T1-weighted spectral pre-saturation with inversion recovery (SPIR) images were acquired on a 3T scanner. Manual and semi-automatic atlas-free local statistics signature-based segmentations measured the surface and volume of SN, respectively. Midbrain volume (MV) was calculated to normalize the data. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed to determine the sensitivity and specificity of both methods. PD patients had significantly lower SN mean surface (37.7 ± 8.0 vs. 56.9 ± 6.6 mm2
) and volume (235.1 ± 45.4 vs. 382.9 ± 100.5 mm3
) than HC. After normalization with MV, the difference remained significant. For surface, sensitivity and specificity were 91.7 and 95 percent, respectively. For volume, sensitivity and specificity were 91.7 and 90 percent, respectively. Manual and semi-automatic segmentation methods of the SN reliably distinguished between PD patients and HC. ROC analysis shows the high sensitivity and specificity of both methods.
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