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Article

Same Brain, Different Look?—The Impact of Scanner, Sequence and Preprocessing on Diffusion Imaging Outcome Parameters

1
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
2
Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Epidemiology (IMISE), University of Leipzig, 04107 Leipzig, Germany
3
Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases (LIFE), University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
4
Department of Neuropsychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
5
Day Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig Medical Center—Leipzig University, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
6
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Anna Caroli
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(21), 4987; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10214987
Received: 2 September 2021 / Revised: 21 October 2021 / Accepted: 23 October 2021 / Published: 27 October 2021
In clinical diagnostics and longitudinal studies, the reproducibility of MRI assessments is of high importance in order to detect pathological changes, but developments in MRI hard- and software often outrun extended periods of data acquisition and analysis. This could potentially introduce artefactual changes or mask pathological alterations. However, if and how changes of MRI hardware, scanning protocols or preprocessing software affect complex neuroimaging outcomes from, e.g., diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) remains largely understudied. We therefore compared DWI outcomes and artefact severity of 121 healthy participants (age range 19–54 years) who underwent two matched DWI protocols (Siemens product and Center for Magnetic Resonance Research sequence) at two sites (Siemens 3T Magnetom Verio and Skyrafit). After different preprocessing steps, fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) maps, obtained by tensor fitting, were processed with tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS). Inter-scanner and inter-sequence variability of skeletonised FA values reached up to 5% and differed largely in magnitude and direction across the brain. Skeletonised MD values differed up to 14% between scanners. We here demonstrate that DTI outcome measures strongly depend on imaging site and software, and that these biases vary between brain regions. These regionally inhomogeneous biases may exceed and considerably confound physiological effects such as ageing, highlighting the need to harmonise data acquisition and analysis. Future studies thus need to implement novel strategies to augment neuroimaging data reliability and replicability. View Full-Text
Keywords: diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; white matter; fractional anisotropy; multi-centre; reproducibility; imaging artefacts; ageing diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; white matter; fractional anisotropy; multi-centre; reproducibility; imaging artefacts; ageing
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MDPI and ACS Style

Thieleking, R.; Zhang, R.; Paerisch, M.; Wirkner, K.; Anwander, A.; Beyer, F.; Villringer, A.; Witte, A.V. Same Brain, Different Look?—The Impact of Scanner, Sequence and Preprocessing on Diffusion Imaging Outcome Parameters. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 4987. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10214987

AMA Style

Thieleking R, Zhang R, Paerisch M, Wirkner K, Anwander A, Beyer F, Villringer A, Witte AV. Same Brain, Different Look?—The Impact of Scanner, Sequence and Preprocessing on Diffusion Imaging Outcome Parameters. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2021; 10(21):4987. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10214987

Chicago/Turabian Style

Thieleking, Ronja, Rui Zhang, Maria Paerisch, Kerstin Wirkner, Alfred Anwander, Frauke Beyer, Arno Villringer, and A. V. Witte. 2021. "Same Brain, Different Look?—The Impact of Scanner, Sequence and Preprocessing on Diffusion Imaging Outcome Parameters" Journal of Clinical Medicine 10, no. 21: 4987. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10214987

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