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Using Tractography to Distinguish SWEDD from Parkinson’s Disease Patients based on Connectivity
Background: It is critical to distinguish between Parkinson’s disease (PD) and scans without evidence of dopaminergic deficit (SWEDD), because the two groups are different and require different therapeutic approaches. Objective: The aim of this study was to distinguish SWEDD patients from PD patients using connectivity information derived from diffusion tensor imaging tractography. Methods: Diffusion magnetic resonance images of SWEDD (n = 37) and PD (n = 40) were obtained from a research database. Tractography, the process of obtaining neural fiber information, was performed using custom software. Group-wise differences between PD and SWEDD patients were quantified using the number of connected fibers between two regions, and correlation analyses were performed based on clinical scores. A support vector machine classifier (SVM) was applied to distinguish PD and SWEDD based on group-wise differences. Results: Four connections showed significant group-wise differences and correlated with the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale sponsored by the Movement Disorder Society. The SVM classifier attained 77.92% accuracy in distinguishing between SWEDD and PD using these identified connections. Conclusions: The connections and regions identified represent candidates for future research investigations.
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