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Comparison of distortion correction preprocessing pipelines for DTI in the upper limb

Wade, R. G., Tam, W. ORCID: 0000-0002-6241-4810, Perumal, A. , Pepple, S., Griffiths, T. T., Flather, R., Haroon, H. A., Shelley, D., Plein, S., Bourke, G. & Teh, I. (2023). Comparison of distortion correction preprocessing pipelines for DTI in the upper limb. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 91(2), pp. 773-783. doi: 10.1002/mrm.29881


PURPOSE: DTI characterizes tissue microstructure and provides proxy measures of nerve health. Echo-planar imaging is a popular method of acquiring DTI but is susceptible to various artifacts (e.g., susceptibility, motion, and eddy currents), which may be ameliorated via preprocessing. There are many pipelines available but limited data comparing their performance, which provides the rationale for this study.

METHODS: DTI was acquired from the upper limb of heathy volunteers at 3T in blip-up and blip-down directions. Data were independently corrected using (i) FSL's TOPUP & eddy, (ii) FSL's TOPUP, (iii) DSI Studio, and (iv) TORTOISE. DTI metrics were extracted from the median, radial, and ulnar nerves and compared (between pipelines) using mixed-effects linear regression. The geometric similarity of corrected b = 0 images and the slice matched T1-weighted (T1w) images were computed using the Sörenson-Dice coefficient.

RESULTS: Without preprocessing, the similarity coefficient of the blip-up and blip-down datasets to the T1w was 0·80 and 0·79, respectively. Preprocessing improved the geometric similarity by 1% with no difference between pipelines. Compared to TOPUP & eddy, DSI Studio and TORTOISE generated 2% and 6% lower estimates of fractional anisotropy, and 6% and 13% higher estimates of radial diffusivity, respectively. Estimates of anisotropy from TOPUP & eddy versus TOPUP were not different but TOPUP reduced radial diffusivity by 3%. The agreement of DTI metrics between pipelines was poor.

CONCLUSIONS: Preprocessing DTI from the upper limb improves geometric similarity but the choice of the pipeline introduces clinically important variability in diffusion parameter estimates from peripheral nerves.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: anisotropy, diffusion, diffusivity, distortion, DTI, magnetic resonance, median, nerve, pre-processing, radial, ulnar
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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