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Neuroimage. 2012 Jan 2;59(1):389-98. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.004. Epub 2011 Jul 13.

Prospective and retrospective motion correction in diffusion magnetic resonance imaging of the human brain.

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Laboratory for Functional and Metabolic Imaging, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and Department of Radiology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Diffusion-weighting in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) increases the sensitivity to molecular Brownian motion, providing insight in the micro-environment of the underlying tissue types and structures. At the same time, the diffusion weighting renders the scans sensitive to other motion, including bulk patient motion. Typically, several image volumes are needed to extract diffusion information, inducing also inter-volume motion susceptibility. Bulk motion is more likely during long acquisitions, as they appear in diffusion tensor, diffusion spectrum and q-ball imaging. Image registration methods are successfully used to correct for bulk motion in other MRI time series, but their performance in diffusion-weighted MRI is limited since diffusion weighting introduces strong signal and contrast changes between serial image volumes. In this work, we combine the capability of free induction decay (FID) navigators, providing information on object motion, with image registration methodology to prospectively--or optionally retrospectively--correct for motion in diffusion imaging of the human brain. Eight healthy subjects were instructed to perform small-scale voluntary head motion during clinical diffusion tensor imaging acquisitions. The implemented motion detection based on FID navigator signals is processed in real-time and provided an excellent detection performance of voluntary motion patterns even at a sub-millimetre scale (sensitivity≥92%, specificity>98%). Motion detection triggered an additional image volume acquisition with b=0 s/mm2 which was subsequently co-registered to a reference volume. In the prospective correction scenario, the calculated motion-parameters were applied to perform a real-time update of the gradient coordinate system to correct for the head movement. Quantitative analysis revealed that the motion correction implementation is capable to correct head motion in diffusion-weighted MRI to a level comparable to scans without voluntary head motion. The results indicate the potential of this method to improve image quality in diffusion-weighted MRI, a concept that can also be applied when highest diffusion weightings are performed.

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