Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) and R 2* in the human brain at 3T: Evaluation of intra-scanner repeatability

Z Med Phys. 2018 Feb;28(1):36-48. doi: 10.1016/j.zemedi.2017.05.003. Epub 2017 Jun 7.


Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) and the effective transverse relaxation rate (R2*) can be used to monitor iron and myelin content in brain tissue, which are both subject to changes in many neurological diseases but also during healthy aging. In this study, we quantitatively assessed the repeatability of QSM and R2* by applying four independent scans in eight young healthy, female subjects on a 3T MRI scanner. Since QSM does not yield absolute values for bulk magnetic susceptibilities, we additionally investigated the influence of the choice of a reference brain region for susceptibility by computing susceptibility differences with respect to five different brain structures (whole brain, frontal white matter (fWM), internal capsule (IC), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the lateral ventricle, cortical gray matter (cGM)). The intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC), variance ratio (VR) and repeatability coefficient (RC) were used to evaluate the repeatability of the calculated susceptibility differences and the R2* values in six different subcortical brain structures. Linear regression was used to analyze the correlation between susceptibility differences and R2*. We found that the susceptibility differences with respect to each investigated reference region (0.868≤mean ICC≤0.914) and the R2* values (mean ICC=0.923) were highly repeatable across the four times repeated scans. With consistently higher ICC, higher VR and lower RC, whole brain and cGM appeared to be the two most suitable reference regions for QSM with respect to repeatability.

Keywords: Effective transverse relaxation; Magnetic resonance imaging; Quantitative susceptibility mapping; Repeatability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Iron / analysis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / standards*
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult


  • Iron