Directional and inter-acquisition variability in diffusion-weighted imaging and editing for restricted diffusion

Magn Reson Med. 2022 Nov;88(5):2298-2310. doi: 10.1002/mrm.29385. Epub 2022 Jul 21.


Purpose: To evaluate and quantify inter-directional and inter-acquisition variation in diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and emphasize signals that report restricted diffusion to enhance cancer conspicuity, while reducing the effects of local microscopic motion and magnetic field fluctuations.

Methods: Ten patients with biopsy-proven prostate cancer were studied under an Institutional Review Board-approved protocol. Individual acquisitions of DWI signal intensities were reconstructed to calculate inter-acquisition distributions and their statistics, which were compared for healthy versus cancer tissue. A method was proposed to detect and filter the acquisitions affected by motion-induced signal loss. First, signals that reflect restricted diffusion were separated from the acquisitions that suffer from signal loss, likely due to microscopic motion, by imposing a cutoff value. Furthermore, corrected apparent diffusion coefficient maps were calculated by employing a weighted sum of the multiple acquisitions, instead of conventional averaging. These weights were calculated by applying a soft-max function to the set of acquisitions per-voxel, making the analysis immune to acquisitions with significant signal loss, even if the number of such acquisitions is high.

Results: Inter-acquisition variation is much larger than the Rician noise variance, local spatial variations, and the estimates of diffusion anisotropy based on the current data, as well as the published values of anisotropy. The proposed method increases the contrast for cancers and yields a sensitivity of 98 . 8 % $$ 98.8\% $$ with a false positive rate of 3 . 9 % $$ 3.9\% $$ .

Conclusion: Motion-induced signal loss makes conventional signal-averaging suboptimal and can obscure signals from areas with restricted diffusion. Filtering or weighting individual acquisitions prior to image analysis can overcome this problem.

Keywords: ADC; diffusion-weighted imaging; inter-acquisition variation; molecular motion; restricted diffusion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Male
  • Motion
  • Prostate
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging