Minimum SNR and acquisition for bias-free estimation of fractional anisotropy in diffusion tensor imaging - a comparison of two analytical techniques and field strengths

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17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although it is known that low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) can affect tensor metrics, few studies reporting disease or treatment effects on fractional anisotropy (FA) report SNR; the implicit assumption is that SNR is adequate. However, the level at which low SNR causes bias in FA may vary with tissue FA, field strength and analytical methodology. We determined the SNR thresholds at 1.5 T vs. 3 T in regions of white matter (WM) with different FA and compared FA derived using manual region-of-interest (ROI) analysis to tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS), an operator-independent whole-brain analysis tool. Using ROI analysis, SNR thresholds on our hardware-software magnetic resonance platforms were 25 at 1.5 T and 20 at 3 T in the callosal genu (CG), 40 at 1.5 and 3 T in the anterior corona radiata (ACR), and 50 at 1.5 T and 70 at 3 T in the putamen (PUT). Using TBSS, SNR thresholds were 20 at 1.5 T and 3 T in the CG, and 35 at 1.5 T and 40 at 3 T in the ACR. Below these thresholds, the mean FA increased logarithmically, and the standard deviations widened. Achieving bias-free SNR in the PUT required at least nine acquisitions at 1.5 T and six acquisitions at 3 T. In the CG and ACR, bias-free SNR was achieved with at least three acquisitions at 1.5 T and one acquisition at 3 T. Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study regions of low FA, e.g., basal ganglia, cerebral cortex, and WM in the abnormal brain, SNR should be documented. SNR thresholds below which FA is biased varied with the analytical technique, inherent tissue FA and field strength. Studies using DTI to study WM injury should document that bias-free SNR has been achieved in the region of the brain being studied as part of quality control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1133
Number of pages11
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Volume30
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012

Keywords

  • Bias-free FA
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Manual ROI analysis
  • SNR threshold
  • Tract-based spatial statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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