Thursday, August 26, 2010

Too many papers, too little time...

Doing a literature search this morning, I stumbled across "The reliability of high resolution MRI in the measurement of early stage carotid wall thickening" by Boussel et al. What struck me immediately was their Figure 2 (left), which nicely shows that MRI tends to overestimate normal wall thickness compared to ultrasound intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements, something the authors said was "potentially due to the inclusion of the adventitia by MRI".

As it turns out, I had downloaded a copy into my Papers database on January 5, 2008. Why is this relevant? Because, in Febrauary 2008 we submitted a paper entitled "On the overestimation of early wall thickening at the carotid bulb by black blood MRI...". Looking at their figure now (and probably then), I noticed how similar it looked to our predictions. So now, almost two years later, I plotted their data (hand digitized using a great shareware program, getdata) over the data from Figure 8 of our paper. As shown to the right, the trends are indeed remarkably consistent.

There are some discrepancies, of course. Boussel et al.'s data were acquired with 0.6-mm pixels, but would seem to fall between our predictions of 0.3 - 0.5 mm pixels. This may be because their images were segmented manually, whereas our predictions were based on automated edge-detection. (Thanks to Bill Kerwin from the University of Seattle for later explaining to me why the latter probably overestimates the problem relative to the former.)

It would have been nice to have included this comparison in our paper, for it bolsters our conclusion that the spatial resolution of MRI, rather than the adventitia, is the culprit. Oh well, better later than never! But, and per the title of this post, there are just too many papers out there to be able to read and remember them all. My Papers database has 3446 PDF files as of today, most of them probably relevant to my research, but the vast majority probably inhaled and forgotten like a fast food dinner, rather than savoured and remembered like a gourmet meal. A weak metaphor perhaps, but maybe science could do with a "slow food" movement...

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