Object: Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) is increasingly used in medicine and clinical research. Previous reliability studies have used small samples and focussed on limited aspects of variability; information regarding 1.5T versus 3T performance is lacking. The aim of the present work was to measure the inter-session, intra-session, inter-subject, within-brain and residual variance components using both 1.5T and 3T MR scanners.
Materials and methods: Eleven healthy volunteers were invited for MRSI scanning on three occasions at both 1.5T and 3T, with four scans acquired at each visit. We measured variance components, correcting for grey matter and white matter content of voxels, of metabolite peak areas and peak area ratios.
Results: Residual variance was in general the largest component at 1.5T (8.6-24.6%), while within-brain variation was the largest component at 3T (12.0-24.7%). Inter-subject variation was around 5%, while inter- and intra-session variance were both generally small.
Conclusion: Multiple variance contributions associated with MRSI measurements were quantified and the performance of 1.5T and 3T MRI scanners compared using data from the same group of subjects. Residual error is much lower at 3T, but other variance components remain important.