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Publication Detail
Multi-parametric quantitative spinal cord MRI with unified signal readout and image denoising
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Grussu F, Battiston M, Veraart J, Schneider T, Cohen-Adad J, Shepherd T, Alexander D, Novikov D, Fieremans E, Wheeler-Kingshott CG
  • Publication date:
  • Status:
Abstract Multi-parametric quantitative MRI (qMRI) of the spinal cord is a promising non-invasive tool to probe early microstructural damage in neurological disorders. It is usually performed by combining acquisitions with multiple signal readouts, which exhibit different thermal noise levels, geometrical distortions and susceptibility to physiological noise. This ultimately hinders joint multi-contrast modelling and makes the geometric correspondence of parametric maps challenging. We propose an approach to overcome these limitations, by implementing state-of-the-art microstructural MRI of the spinal cord with a unified signal readout. We base our acquisition on single-shot echo planar imaging with reduced field-of-view, and obtain data from two different vendors (vendor 1: Philips Achieva; vendor 2: Siemens Prisma). Importantly, the unified acquisition allows us to compare signal and noise across contrasts, thus enabling overall quality enhancement via Marchenko-Pastur (MP) Principal Component Analysis (PCA) denoising. MP-PCA is a recent method relying on redundant acquisitions, i.e. such that the number of measurements is much larger than the number of informative principal components. Here we used in vivo and synthetic data to test whether a unified readout enables more efficient denoising of less redundant acquisitions, since these can be denoised jointly with more redundant ones. We demonstrate that a unified readout provides robust multi-parametric maps, including diffusion and kurtosis tensors from diffusion MRI, myelin metrics from two-pool magnetisation transfer, and T1 and T2 from relaxometry. Moreover, we show that MP-PCA improves the quality of our multi-contrast acquisitions, since it reduces the coefficient of variation (i.e. variability) by up to 15% for mean kurtosis, 8% for bound pool fraction (BPF, myelin-sensitive), and 13% for T1, while enabling more efficient denoising of modalities limited in redundancy (e.g. relaxometry). In conclusion, multi-parametric spinal cord qMRI with unified readout is feasible and provides robust microstructural metrics with matched resolution and distortions, whose quality benefits from MP-PCA denoising, a useful pre-processing tool for spinal cord MRI.
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