An imaging-based method of mapping multi-echo BOLD intracranial pulsatility

Magn Reson Med. 2023 Mar 17. doi: 10.1002/mrm.29639. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Cardiac-related intracranial pulsatility may relate to cerebrovascular health, and this information is contained in BOLD MRI data. There is broad interest in methods to isolate BOLD pulsatility, and the current study examines a deep learning approach.

Methods: Multi-echo BOLD images, respiratory, and cardiac recordings were measured in 55 adults. Ground truth BOLD pulsatility maps were calculated with an established method. BOLD fast Fourier transform magnitude images were used as temporal-frequency image inputs to a U-Net deep learning model. Model performance was evaluated by mean squared error (MSE), mean absolute error (MAE), structural similarity index (SSIM), and mutual information (MI). Experiments evaluated the influence of input channel size, an age group effect during training, dependence on TE, performance without the U-Net architecture, and importance of respiratory preprocessing.

Results: The U-Net model generated BOLD pulsatility maps with lower MSE as additional fast Fourier transform input images were used. There was no age group effect for MSE (P > 0.14). MAE and SSIM metrics did not vary across TE (P > 0.36), whereas MI showed a significant TE dependence (P < 0.05). The U-Net versus no U-Net comparison showed no significant difference for MAE (P = 0.059); however, SSIM and MI were significantly different between models (P < 0.001). Within the insula, the cross-correlation values were high (r > 0.90) when comparing the U-Net model trained with/without respiratory preprocessing.

Conclusion: Multi-echo BOLD pulsatility maps were synthesized from a U-net model that was trained to use temporal-frequency BOLD image inputs. This work adds to the deep learning methods that characterize BOLD physiological signals.

Keywords: blood oxygenation; cerebrovascular; deep learning; pulsatility.