Myelin water imaging data analysis in less than one minute

Neuroimage. 2020 Apr 15;210:116551. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116551. Epub 2020 Jan 21.


Purpose: Based on a deep learning neural network (NN) algorithm, a super fast and easy to implement data analysis method was proposed for myelin water imaging (MWI) to calculate the myelin water fraction (MWF).

Methods: A NN was constructed and trained on MWI data acquired by a 32-echo 3D gradient and spin echo (GRASE) sequence. Ground truth labels were created by regularized non-negative least squares (NNLS) with stimulated echo corrections. Voxel-wise GRASE data from 5 brains (4 healthy, 1 multiple sclerosis (MS)) were used for NN training. The trained NN was tested on 2 healthy brains, 1 MS brain with segmented lesions, 1 healthy spinal cord, and 1 healthy brain acquired from a different scanner.

Results: Production of whole brain MWF maps in approximately 33 ​s can be achieved by a trained NN without graphics card acceleration. For all testing regions, no visual differences between NN and NNLS MWF maps were observed, and no obvious regional biases were found. Quantitatively, all voxels exhibited excellent agreement between NN and NNLS (all R2>0.98, p ​< ​0.001, mean absolute error <0.01).

Conclusion: The time for accurate MWF calculation can be dramatically reduced to less than 1 ​min by the proposed NN, addressing one of the barriers facing future clinical feasibility of MWI.

Keywords: Deep learning; Multiple sclerosis; Myelin water fraction; Myelin water imaging; Neural network; Quantitative MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Water / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Deep Learning*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Myelin Sheath*
  • Neuroimaging / methods*