Optimization of a Multifrequency Magnetic Resonance Elastography Protocol for the Human Brain

J Neuroimaging. 2019 Jul;29(4):440-446. doi: 10.1111/jon.12619. Epub 2019 May 6.


Background and purpose: The brain's stiffness measurements from magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) strongly depend on actuation frequencies, which makes cross-study comparisons challenging. We performed a preliminary study to acquire optimal sets of actuation frequencies to accurately obtain rheological parameters for the whole brain (WB), white matter (WM), and gray matter (GM).

Methods: Six healthy volunteers aged between 26 and 72 years old went through MRE with a modified single-shot spin-echo echo planar imaging pulse sequence embedded with motion encoding gradients on a 3T scanner. Frequency-independent brain material properties and best-fit material model were determined from the frequency-dependent brain tissue response data (20 -80 Hz), by comparing four different linear viscoelastic material models (Maxwell, Kelvin-Voigt, Springpot, and Zener). During the material fitting, spatial averaging of complex shear moduli (G*) obtained under single actuation frequency was performed, and then rheological parameters were acquired. Since clinical scan time is limited, a combination of three actuation frequencies that would provide the most accurate approximation and lowest fitting error was determined for WB, WM, and GM by optimizing for the lowest Bayesian information criterion (BIC).

Results: BIC scores for the Zener and Springpot models showed these models approximate the multifrequency response of the tissue best. The best-fit frequency combinations for the reference Zener and Springpot models were identified to be 30-60-70 and 30-40-80 Hz, respectively, for the WB.

Conclusions: Optimal sets of actuation frequencies to accurately obtain rheological parameters for WB, WM, and GM were determined from shear moduli measurements obtained via 3-dimensional direct inversion. We believe that our study is a first-step in developing a region-specific multifrequency MRE protocol for the human brain.

Keywords: Brain; magnetic resonance elastography; multifrequency; viscoelasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Echo-Planar Imaging
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging