Development and Initial Evaluation of 7-T Q-Ball Imaging of the Human Brain

Magn Reson Imaging. 2008 Feb;26(2):171-80. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2007.05.011. Epub 2007 Aug 9.


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) noninvasively depicts white matter connectivity in regions where the Gaussian model of diffusion is valid but yields inaccurate results in those where diffusion has a more complex distribution, such as fiber crossings. q-ball imaging (QBI) overcomes this limitation of DTI by more fully characterizing the angular dependence of intravoxel diffusion with larger numbers of diffusion-encoding directional measurements at higher diffusion-weighting factors (b values). However, the former technique results in longer acquisition times and the latter technique results in a lower signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). In this project, we developed specialized 7-T acquisition methods utilizing novel radiofrequency pulses, eight-channel parallel imaging EPI and high-order shimming with a phase-sensitive multichannel B0 field map reconstruction. These methods were applied in initial healthy adult volunteer studies, which demonstrated the feasibility of performing 7-T QBI. Preliminary comparisons of 3 T with 7 T within supratentorial crossing white matter tracts documented a 79.5% SNR increase for b=3000 s/mm2 (P=.0001) and a 38.6% SNR increase for b=6000 s/mm2 (P=.015). With spherical harmonic reconstruction of the q-ball orientation distribution function at b=3000 s/mm2, 7-T QBI allowed for accurate visualization of crossing fiber tracts with fewer diffusion-encoding acquisitions as compared with 3-T QBI. The improvement of 7-T QBI at b factors as high as 6000 s/mm2 resulted in better angular resolution as compared with 3-T QBI for depicting fibers crossing at shallow angles. Although the increased susceptibility effects at 7 T caused problematic distortions near brain-air interfaces at the skull base and posterior fossa, these initial 7-T QBI studies demonstrated excellent quality in much of the supratentorial brain, with significant improvements as compared with 3-T acquisitions in the same individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure*