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IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2011 Feb;30(2):424-37. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2010.2084583. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

SNR dependence of optimal parameters for apparent diffusion coefficient measurements.

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  • 1Magnetic Resonance Systems Research Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Optimizing the diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) parameters (i.e., the b-value and the number of image averages) to the tissue of interest is essential for producing high-quality apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps. Previous investigation of this optimization was performed assuming Gaussian noise statistics for the ADC map, which is only valid for high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) imaging. In this work, the true statistics of the noise in ADC maps are derived, followed by an optimization of the DWI parameters as a function of the imaging SNR. Specifically, it is demonstrated that the optimum b-value is a monotonically increasing function of the imaging SNR, which converges to the optimum b-value from previously proposed approaches for high-SNR cases, while exhibiting a significant deviation from this asymptote for low-SNR situations. Incorporating the effects of T(2) weighting further increases the SNR dependence of the optimal parameters. The proposed optimization scheme is particularly important for high-resolution DWI, which intrinsically suffers from low SNR and therefore cannot afford the use of the conventional high b-values. Comparison scans were performed for high-resolution DWI of the spinal cord, demonstrating the improvements in the resulting images and the ADC maps achieved by this method.

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