Visual rating of the hippocampus in non-demented elders: Does it measure hippocampal atrophy or other indices of brain atrophy? The SMART-MR study

Arnoud J G Knoops, Yolanda van der Graaf, Auke P A Appelman, Lotte Gerritsen, Willem P Th M Mali, Mirjam I Geerlings*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Visual rating of hippocampal atrophy is often used to differentiate between normal aging and Alzheimer's disease. We investigated whether two visual rating scales of hippocampal atrophy were related to hippocampal volumes, and if visual rating was related to global, cortical and subcortical brain atrophy in persons without dementia. Within the SMART-MR study, a prospective cohort study among patients with manifest arterial disease, medial temporal lobe atrophy was qualitatively rated in 95 participants without dementia (mean age 62 +/- 10 years) using two visual rating scales: the medial temporal lobe (MTA) score was rated on coronal oriented images and the perihippocampal cerebrospinal fluid (HCSF) score was rated on axial oriented images. Hippocampal volume assessed by manual segmentation on a 3-dimensional FFE T1-weighted MR image. Automated segmentation was used to quantify volumes of brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid. Total brain volume, gray matter volume, and ventricular volume were divided by intracranial volume to obtain brain parenchymal fraction (BPF), gray matter fraction (GMF) and ventricular fraction (VF). Using ANOVA, crude hippocampal volumes were smaller with increasing MTA and HSCF scores as were hippocampal volumes normalized for intracranial volume (P < 0.05). However, hippocampal volumes normalized for total brain size were not smaller with increasing MTA or HSCF scores (P = 0.33 and P = 0.49). Also, with increasing visual rating scores, BPF was smaller and VF was larger (P < 0.001), and the GMF decreased with increasing HCSF score (P = 0.008). In this nondemented population, visual rating of the medial temporal lobe reflects hippocampal atrophy as well as global and subcortical atrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1122
Number of pages8
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging/pathology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Atrophy/pathology
  • Brain Stem/pathology
  • Cerebellum/pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex/pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hippocampus/pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies

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