Major hardware/software changes to MRI platforms, either planned or unplanned, will almost invariably occur in longitudinal studies. Our objective was to assess the resulting variability on relevant imaging measurements in such context, specifically for three Siemens Healthcare Magnetom Trio upgrades to the Prismafit platform. We report data acquired on three healthy volunteers scanned before and after three different platform upgrades. We assessed differences in image signal [contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR)] on T1-weighted images (T1w) and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images (FLAIR); brain morphometry on T1w image; and small vessel disease (white matter hyperintensities; WMH) on FLAIR image. Prismafit upgrade resulted in higher (30%) and more variable neocortical CNR and larger brain volume and thickness mainly in frontal areas. A significant relationship was observed between neocortical CNR and neocortical volume. For FLAIR images, no significant CNR difference was observed, but WMH volumes were significantly smaller (-68%) after Prismafit upgrade, when compared to results on the Magnetom Trio. Together, these results indicate that Prismafit upgrade significantly influenced image signal, brain morphometry measures and small vessel diseases measures and that these effects need to be taken into account when analyzing results from any longitudinal study undergoing similar changes.
Keywords: MRI upgrade; Siemens healthcare; longitudinal studies; magnetic resonance imaging; morphometry; neuroimaging; variability.