Computing the orientational-average of diffusion-weighted MRI signals: a comparison of different techniques.

Afzali M, Knutsson H, Özarslan E, Jones DK

Sci Rep 11 (1) 14345 [2021-07-12; online 2021-07-12]

Numerous applications in diffusion MRI involve computing the orientationally-averaged diffusion-weighted signal. Most approaches implicitly assume, for a given b-value, that the gradient sampling vectors are uniformly distributed on a sphere (or 'shell'), computing the orientationally-averaged signal through simple arithmetic averaging. One challenge with this approach is that not all acquisition schemes have gradient sampling vectors distributed over perfect spheres. To ameliorate this challenge, alternative averaging methods include: weighted signal averaging; spherical harmonic representation of the signal in each shell; and using Mean Apparent Propagator MRI (MAP-MRI) to derive a three-dimensional signal representation and estimate its 'isotropic part'. Here, these different methods are simulated and compared under different signal-to-noise (SNR) realizations. With sufficiently dense sampling points (61 orientations per shell), and isotropically-distributed sampling vectors, all averaging methods give comparable results, (MAP-MRI-based estimates give slightly higher accuracy, albeit with slightly elevated bias as b-value increases). As the SNR and number of data points per shell are reduced, MAP-MRI-based approaches give significantly higher accuracy compared with the other methods. We also apply these approaches to in vivo data where the results are broadly consistent with our simulations. A statistical analysis of the simulated data shows that the orientationally-averaged signals at each b-value are largely Gaussian distributed.

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PubMed 34253770

DOI 10.1038/s41598-021-93558-1

Crossref 10.1038/s41598-021-93558-1

pmc: PMC8275746
pii: 10.1038/s41598-021-93558-1

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