Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is the most common cause of chronic spinal cord injury, a significant public health problem. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a neuroimaging technique widely used to assess CNS tissue pathology and is increasingly used in CSM. However, DTI lacks the needed accuracy, precision, and recall to image pathologies of spinal cord injury as the disease progresses. Thus, the authors used diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI) to delineate white matter injury more accurately in the setting of spinal cord compression. It was hypothesized that the profiles of multiple DBSI metrics can serve as imaging outcome predictors to accurately predict a patient’s response to therapy and his or her long-term prognosis. This hypothesis was tested by using DBSI metrics as input features in a support vector machine (SVM) algorithm.
Fifty patients with CSM and 20 healthy controls were recruited to receive diffusion-weighted MRI examinations. All spinal cord white matter was identified as the region of interest (ROI). DBSI and DTI metrics were extracted from all voxels in the ROI and the median value of each patient was used in analyses. An SVM with optimized hyperparameters was trained using clinical and imaging metrics separately and collectively to predict patient outcomes. Patient outcomes were determined by calculating changes between pre- and postoperative modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scale scores.
Accuracy, precision, recall, and F1 score were reported for each SVM iteration. The highest performance was observed when a combination of clinical and DBSI metrics was used to train an SVM. When assessing patient outcomes using mJOA scale scores, the SVM trained with clinical and DBSI metrics achieved accuracy and an area under the curve of 88.1% and 0.95, compared with 66.7% and 0.65, respectively, when clinical and DTI metrics were used together.
The accuracy and efficacy of the SVM incorporating clinical and DBSI metrics show promise for clinical applications in predicting patient outcomes. These results suggest that DBSI metrics, along with the clinical presentation, could serve as a surrogate in prognosticating outcomes of patients with CSM.