Magn Reson Imaging 2018 02 17;46:28-39. Epub 2017 Oct 17.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada; Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Campbell Family Mental Health Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada.
Purpose: To develop a quality assurance (QA) tool (acquisition guidelines and automated processing) for diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data using a common agar-based phantom used for fMRI QA. The goal is to produce a comprehensive set of automated, sensitive and robust QA metrics.
Methods: A readily available agar phantom was scanned with and without parallel imaging reconstruction. Other scanning parameters were matched to the human scans. A central slab made up of either a thick slice or an average of a few slices, was extracted and all processing was performed on that image. The proposed QA relies on the creation of two ROIs for processing: (i) a preset central circular region of interest (ccROI) and (ii) a signal mask for all images in the dataset. The ccROI enables computation of average signal for SNR calculations as well as average FA values. The production of the signal masks enables automated measurements of eddy current and B0 inhomogeneity induced distortions by exploiting the sphericity of the phantom. Also, the signal masks allow automated background localization to assess levels of Nyquist ghosting.
Results: The proposed DTI-QA was shown to produce eleven metrics which are robust yet sensitive to image quality changes within site and differences across sites. It can be performed in a reasonable amount of scan time (~15min) and the code for automated processing has been made publicly available.
Conclusions: A novel DTI-QA tool has been proposed. It has been applied successfully on data from several scanners/platforms. The novelty lies in the exploitation of the sphericity of the phantom for distortion measurements. Other novel contributions are: the computation of an SNR value per gradient direction for the diffusion weighted images (DWIs) and an SNR value per non-DWI, an automated background detection for the Nyquist ghosting measurement and an error metric reflecting the contribution of EPI instability to the eddy current induced shape changes observed for DWIs.