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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48232. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048232. Epub 2012 Nov 26.

Parametric representation of multiple white matter fascicles from cube and sphere diffusion MRI.

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Computational Radiology Laboratory, Department of Radiology Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


The characterization of the complex diffusion signal arising from the brain remains an open problem. Many representations focus on characterizing the global shape of the diffusion profile at each voxel and are limited to the assessment of connectivity. In contrast, Multiple Fascicle Models (MFM) seek to represent the contribution from each white matter fascicle and may be useful in the investigation of both white matter connectivity and diffusion properties of each individual fascicle. However, the most appropriate representation of multiple fascicles remains unclear. In particular, a multiple tensor representation of multiple fascicles has frequently been reported to be numerically challenging and unstable. We provide here the first analytical demonstration that when using a diffusion MRI acquisition with only one non-zero b-value, such as in conventional single-shell HARDI acquisition, a co-linearity in model parameters makes the precise model estimation impossible. Motivated by this theoretical result, we propose the novel CUSP (CUbe and SPhere) optimal acquisition scheme to achieve multiple non-zero b-values. It combines the gradients of a single-shell HARDI with gradients in its enclosing cube, in which varying b-values can be acquired by modulation of the gradient strength, without modifying the minimum echo time. Compared to a multi-shell HARDI acquisition, our scheme has significantly increased signal-to-noise ratio. We propose a novel estimation algorithm that enables efficient, robust and accurate estimation of the parameters of a multi-tensor model. In conjunction with a CUSP acquisition, it enables full estimation of the multi-tensor model. We present an evaluation of CUSP-MFM on both synthetic phantoms and invivo data. We report qualitative and quantitative experimental evaluations which demonstrate the ability of CUSP-MFM to characterize multiple fascicles from short duration acquisitions. CUSP-MFM enables rapid and effective investigation of multiple white matter fascicles, in both normal development and in disease and injury, in research and clinical practice.

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