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Same brain, different look? The impact of scanner, sequence and preprocessing on diffusion imaging outcome parameters

MPS-Authors
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Thieleking,  Ronja
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Zhang,  Rui
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Paerisch,  Maria
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Anwander,  Alfred
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Beyer,  Frauke
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Witte,  A. Veronica
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Citation

Thieleking, R., Zhang, R., Paerisch, M., Wirkner, K., Anwander, A., Beyer, F., et al. (2021). Same brain, different look? The impact of scanner, sequence and preprocessing on diffusion imaging outcome parameters. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10(21): 4987. doi:10.3390/jcm10214987.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-72B0-F
Abstract
In clinical diagnostics and longitudinal studies, the reproducibility of MRI assessments is of high importance in order to detect pathological changes, but developments in MRI hard- and software often outrun extended periods of data acquisition and analysis. This could potentially introduce artefactual changes or mask pathological alterations. However, if and how changes of MRI hardware, scanning protocols or preprocessing software affect complex neuroimaging outcomes from, e.g., diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) remains largely understudied. We therefore compared DWI outcomes and artefact severity of 121 healthy participants (age range 19–54 years) who underwent two matched DWI protocols (Siemens product and Center for Magnetic Resonance Research sequence) at two sites (Siemens 3T Magnetom Verio and Skyrafit). After different preprocessing steps, fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) maps, obtained by tensor fitting, were processed with tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS). Inter-scanner and inter-sequence variability of skeletonised FA values reached up to 5% and differed largely in magnitude and direction across the brain. Skeletonised MD values differed up to 14% between scanners. We here demonstrate that DTI outcome measures strongly depend on imaging site and software, and that these biases vary between brain regions. These regionally inhomogeneous biases may exceed and considerably confound physiological effects such as ageing, highlighting the need to harmonise data acquisition and analysis. Future studies thus need to implement novel strategies to augment neuroimaging data reliability and replicability.