Assessment of Precision and Accuracy of Brain White Matter Microstructure using Combined Diffusion MRI and Relaxometry

ArXiv [Preprint]. 2024 Feb 27:arXiv:2402.17175v1.


Joint modeling of diffusion and relaxation has seen growing interest due to its potential to provide complementary information about tissue microstructure. For brain white matter, we designed an optimal diffusion-relaxometry MRI protocol that samples multiple b-values, B-tensor shapes, and echo times (TE). This variable-TE protocol (27 min) has as subsets a fixed-TE protocol (15 min) and a 2-shell dMRI protocol (7 min), both characterizing diffusion only. We assessed the sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility of these protocols with synthetic experiments and in six healthy volunteers. Compared with the fixed-TE protocol, the variable-TE protocol enables estimation of free water fractions while also capturing compartmental T2 relaxation times. Jointly measuring diffusion and relaxation offers increased sensitivity and specificity to microstructure parameters in brain white matter with voxelwise coefficients of variation below 10%.

Keywords: biophysical modeling; brain white matter; diffusion-relaxometry; microstructure imaging; multidimensional diffusion MRI; protocol optimization.

Publication types

  • Preprint