The trouble with quality filtering based on relative Cramér-Rao lower bounds

Magn Reson Med. 2016 Jan;75(1):15-8. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25568. Epub 2015 Mar 6.


Cramér Rao Lower Bounds (CRLB) have become the standard for expression of uncertainties in quantitative MR spectroscopy. If properly interpreted as a lower threshold of the error associated with model fitting, and if the limits of its estimation are respected, CRLB are certainly a very valuable tool to give an idea of minimal uncertainties in magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), although other sources of error may be larger. Unfortunately, it has also become standard practice to use relative CRLB expressed as a percentage of the presently estimated area or concentration value as unsupervised exclusion criterion for bad quality spectra. It is shown that such quality filtering with widely used threshold levels of 20% to 50% CRLB readily causes bias in the estimated mean concentrations of cohort data, leading to wrong or missed statistical findings--and if applied rigorously--to the failure of using MRS as a clinical instrument to diagnose disease characterized by low levels of metabolites. Instead, absolute CRLB in comparison to those of the normal group or CRLB in relation to normal metabolite levels may be more useful as quality criteria.

Keywords: Cramér Rao minimum variance bounds; MR spectroscopy; errors; quality control; quality filtering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Computer Simulation
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*