Volumetric assessment of cerebral asymmetry from CT scans

Robert B. Zipursky, Kelvin O. Lim, Adolf Pfefferbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The advent of computed tomography (CT) of the brain has facilitated the study of brain asymmetries in normal individuals and in patients with various diseases. A computerized volumetric approach to quantifying CT scan data is used to demonstrate that imperfect alignment of the subject's head in the CT scanner can be a major source of artifact in the assessment of cerebral asymmetry. An approach for estimating the extent of misalignment of the head in the scanner is described. This approach can be used to take variations in head alignment into account when studying cerebral asymmetries. When volumetric measures were used, left-handed subjects (n = 5) were found to have a significantly lower left/right ratio of total cerebral hemispheric tissue than right-handed subjects (n = 41). The amount of asymmetry in the lateral ventricles was found to depend on their total size. A method for controlling for the effect of size when measuring asymmetry of the lateral ventricles is described. In both right- and left-handed subjects, the left lateral ventricles were significantly larger than the right. A magnetic resonance (MR) scan was performed with standard alignment and with a deliberate 10° misalignment, using a volunteer subject. These data are presented to demonstrate how artifactual cerebral asymmetries can be generated by head tilt and to test the quantification procedures developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-89
Number of pages19
JournalPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. This work was supported by the Medical Research Service of the Veterans Administration, National lnstitute of Mental Health grant MH-30854, and National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant AA-5965. The authors thank Brant Wenegrat for his assistance with deveioping the geometric model and Margaret Rosenbloom for her assistance in preparing this article.


  • Computed tomography
  • artifact
  • asymmetry
  • brain imaging
  • handedness
  • laterality


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