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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2011;2011:6997-7000. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6091769.

On the accuracy of unwarping techniques for the correction of susceptibility-induced geometric distortion in magnetic resonance Echo-planar images.

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Computational Radiology Lab, Department of Radiology at Children’s Hospital Boston, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Rapid and efficient imaging of the brain to monitor brain activity and neural connectivity is performed through functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) using the Echo-planar imaging (EPI) sequence. An entire volume of the brain is imaged by EPI in a few seconds through the measurement of all k-space lines within one repetition time. However, this makes the sequence extremely sensitive to imperfections of magnetic field. In particular, the error caused by susceptibility induced magnetic field inhomogeneity accumulates over the duration of phase encoding, which in turn results in severe geometric distortion (warping) in EPI scans. EPI distortion correction through unwarping can be performed by field map based or image based techniques. However, due to the lack of ground truth it has been difficult to compare and validate different approaches. In this paper we propose a hybrid field map guided constrained deformable registration approach and compare it to field map based and image based unwarping approaches through a novel in-vivo validation framework which is based on the acquisition and alignment of EPI scans with different phase encoding directions. The quantitative evaluation results show that our hybrid approach of field map guided deformable registration to an undistorted T2-weighted image outperforms the other approaches.

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