Quantifying the effect of tissue deformation on diffusion-weighted MRI: a mathematical model and an efficient simulation framework applied to cardiac diffusion imaging

Phys Med Biol. 2016 Aug 7;61(15):5662-86. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/61/15/5662. Epub 2016 Jul 7.


Cardiac motion presents a major challenge in diffusion weighted MRI, often leading to large signal losses that necessitate repeated measurements. The diffusion process in the myocardium is difficult to investigate because of the unqualified sensitivity of diffusion measurements to cardiac motion. A rigorous mathematical formalism is introduced to quantify the effect of tissue motion in diffusion imaging. The presented mathematical model, based on the Bloch-Torrey equations, takes into account deformations according to the laws of continuum mechanics. Approximating this mathematical model by using finite elements method, numerical simulations can predict the sensitivity of the diffusion signal to cardiac motion. Different diffusion encoding schemes are considered and the diffusion weighted MR signals, computed numerically, are compared to available results in literature. Our numerical model can identify the existence of two time points in the cardiac cycle, at which the diffusion is unaffected by myocardial strain and cardiac motion. Of course, these time points depend on the type of diffusion encoding scheme. Our numerical results also show that the motion sensitivity of the diffusion sequence can be reduced by using either spin echo technique with acceleration motion compensation diffusion gradients or stimulated echo acquisition mode with unipolar and bipolar diffusion gradients.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac-Gated Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Models, Theoretical