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Br J Radiol. 2011 Dec;84 Spec No 2:S213-26. doi: 10.1259/bjr/74316620.

Multicentre imaging measurements for oncology and in the brain.

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  • 1Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK.


Multicentre imaging studies of brain tumours (and other tumour and brain studies) can enable a large group of patients to be studied, yet they present challenging technical problems. Differences between centres can be characterised, understood and minimised by use of phantoms (test objects) and normal control subjects. Normal white matter forms an excellent standard for some MRI parameters (e.g. diffusion or magnetisation transfer) because the normal biological range is low (<2-3%) and the measurements will reflect this, provided the acquisition sequence is controlled. MR phantoms have benefits and they are necessary for some parameters (e.g. tumour volume). Techniques for temperature monitoring and control are given. In a multicentre study or treatment trial, between-centre variation should be minimised. In a cross-sectional study, all groups should be represented at each centre and the effect of centre added as a covariate in the statistical analysis. In a serial study of disease progression or treatment effect, individual patients should receive all of their scans at the same centre; the power is then limited by the within-subject reproducibility. Sources of variation that are generic to any imaging method and analysis parameters include MR sequence mismatch, B(1) errors, CT effective tube potential, region of interest generation and segmentation procedure. Specific tissue parameters are analysed in detail to identify the major sources of variation and the most appropriate phantoms or normal studies. These include dynamic contrast-enhanced and dynamic susceptibility contrast gadolinium imaging, T(1), diffusion, magnetisation transfer, spectroscopy, tumour volume, arterial spin labelling and CT perfusion.

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