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Quality Assurance for Diffusion MRI 

Quality Assurance for Diffusion MRI
Chapter:
Quality Assurance for Diffusion MRI
Author(s):

Nicholas G. Dowell

and Paul S. Tofts

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195369779.003.0019
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date: 27 January 2020

The accuracy and precision of diffusion measures in the brain determine the power of a clinical study. A thorough, on-going quality assurance (QA) protocol is essential to yield this important information. In spite of the many applications of diffusion MRI, there is no consensus in the MRI community for a simple, reliable, and inexpensive QA protocol. This chapter discusses the repeat scanning of phantoms (test objects) and healthy volunteers as part of a QA approach. Whilst imaging healthy volunteers is more realistic and the normal ranges are quite small, phantoms are generally more convenient and have known diffusion properties. The chapter outlines the requirements and characteristics of a diffusion phantom and discusses the acquisition and analysis procedures involved. It describes the construction of suitable phantoms: the materials for diffusivity phantoms are often commercially available and use suitable liquids/solutions, whereas phantoms that provide reproducible fractional anisotropy measures are much more technically demanding with approaches employing plants, fibers, and capillaries still under development. However, the chapter points out that the careful measurement of diffusivity in phantoms, in conjunction with serial measurements in a small number of healthy volunteers, is likely to detect most sources of error in a diffusivity measurement procedure without the need for a complex fractional anisotropy phantom.

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