Convolutional neural network‐aided tuber segmentation in tuberous sclerosis complex patients correlates with electroencephalogram



One of the clinical hallmarks of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is radiologically identified cortical tubers, which are present in most patients. Intractable epilepsy may require surgery, often involving invasive diagnostic procedures such as intracranial electroencephalography (EEG). Identifying the location of the dominant tuber responsible for generating epileptic activities is a critical issue. However, the link between cortical tubers and epileptogenesis is poorly understood. Given this, we hypothesized that tuber voxel intensity may be an indicator of the dominant epileptogenic tuber. Also, via tuber segmentation based on deep learning, we explored whether an automatic quantification of the tuber burden is feasible.


We annotated tubers from structural magnetic resonance images across 29 TSC subjects, summarized tuber statistics in eight brain lobes, and determined suspected epileptogenic lobes from the same group using EEG monitoring data. Then, logistic regression analyses were performed to demonstrate the linkage between the statistics of cortical tuber and the epileptogenic zones. Furthermore, we tested the ability of a neural network to identify and quantify tuber burden.


Logistic regression analyses showed that the volume and count of tubers per lobe, not the mean or variance of tuber voxel intensity, were positively correlated with electrophysiological data. In 47.6% of subjects, the lobe with the largest tuber volume concurred with the epileptic brain activity. A neural network model on the test dataset showed a sensitivity of .83 for localizing individual tubers. The predicted masks from the model correlated highly with the neurologist labels, and thus may be a useful tool for determining tuber burden and searching for the epileptogenic zone.


We have proven the feasibility of an automatic segmentation of tubers and a derivation of tuber burden across brain lobes. Our method may provide crucial insights regarding the treatment and outcome of TSC patients.