Development & optimization of diffusion tensor imaging at high field strengths in translational research

Habib, Josef (2012) Development & optimization of diffusion tensor imaging at high field strengths in translational research. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

Ever since the inception of Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), unabated advancements in its capabilities and applications have been spearheaded by a vibrant research effort to devise dedicated acquisition sequences, protocols and hardware. In translational research, however, the transition of these innovations into the arenas of biomedical research, and ultimately clinical practice is frequently hampered by practical considerations. These include the availability of appropriate expertise, time and resources for their implementation, and considerations of compatibility with established techniques and results reported in literature. Such concerns provide the impetus to maximize the utility of existing protocols before attempting the development of novel dedicated techniques.

In this thesis, three investigations, each targeting a different DTI application, are presented. The strategy implemented throughout involves assessing the suitability of existing sequences for the intended task, and determining any limiting factors, evaluating whether appropriate modifications of the acquisition protocols used are capable of alleviating limitations, and developing novel, dedicated protocols wherever necessary. The value and, importantly, the wide scope of this approach in answering important research questions is exemplified through the breadth of the studies presented.

The first study presents, for the first time, a quantitative evaluation of the effects of cardiac pulsation on prevalent DTI metrics acquired with a specific acquisition protocol used routinely in clinical practice. Findings inform the on-going debate on whether the investment in cardiac gating is merited by improvements in data quality. Effects were observed during only 6 % of the cardiac cycle, and not 20 % as previously reported. The impact of cardiac pulsation on selected diffusion Tensor indices was minimal in group studies, but of potential practical relevance in individual cases. Methods to predict which individuals may benefit from gating have also been suggested.

Secondly, the feasibility of post-mortem DTI was established through the successful acquisition, also for the first time, of DTI data on a chemically fixed whole human post-mortem brain using a clinical sequence. Previous failed attempts have been attributed to insufficient SNR. In this study scanner stability and distortion are found to be the main limiting factors, and mitigated using appropriate averaging and co-registration strategies.

The third study assessed the potential of ultra-high field strength DTI by identifying and optimizing the potential strengths of DTI at 7T. Subsequent to optimization with respect to SNR, the main sources of artefact were found to be B1 inhomogeneity and inadequate fat suppression. Both were alleviated by modification of the available acquisition protocol, resulting in higher SNR and data quality than previously reported.

Finally, in developing appropriate data quality measures, the ‘Difference method’, commonly used for the quantification of SNR, was found to be unsuitable for in vivo DTI acquisitions at 7 T, leading to the proposal, and successful implementation and validation of an alternative.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Auer, D.
Morgan, P.S.
Bowtell, R.
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Clinical Sciences
ID Code:2405
Deposited By:Mr Josef Habib
Deposited On:05 Oct 2012 10:37
Last Modified:05 Oct 2012 10:37

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