An empirical characterization of the quality of DTI data and the efficacy of dyadic sorting

Nathan E. Yanasak, Jerry D. Allison, Tom C.C. Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Metrics calculated from images acquired using the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) technique possess a systematic bias that depends on signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Dyadic sorting provides a simple method for remediating some of this bias within a region(s) of interest (ROI). Although this bias and its removal using dyadic sorting have been studied previously within a theoretical framework, one can employ precise geometric knowledge of microstructures to perform an empirical comparison between expected DTI results and those measured with a scanner. In this project, the biasing effect of low SNR (∼1-10) on DTI eigenvalues was measured directly using water-filled capillary structures of two different sizes, and the magnitude of the corrective effect of dyadically sorting eigenvector-eigenvalue pairs was characterized. Multiple DTI series were acquired for determining DTI metrics at eight unique SNR values, using TR to vary signal intensity via T1 contrast. Differences between the second and third eigenvalues, which should be equal for prolate geometry, ranged from ∼23% to 45% and from 19% to 41% for large and small inner diameter capillaries after sorting eigenvalues by magnitude, and ranged from ∼1% to 18% and from 1% to 4% after dyadic sorting. A high-resolution DTI series was used to observe the effect of ROI size on dyadic sorting. For restriction of diffusion on the scale of the small capillary at SNR∼18, an ROI with ≥50 pixels is adequate to determine fractional anisotropy to 99% accuracy, while larger ROI are required to resolve the two smaller eigenvalues to the same accuracy (∼330-390 pixels). At low values of SNR, the iteration of dyadic sorting is suggested to achieve good accuracy. A method for the incorporation of empirical measurements into a bias-correction map, which would be useful for characterizing uncertainty and for reducing systematic bias in DTI data, is introduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-132
Number of pages11
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Anisotropy
  • DTI
  • Diffusion tensor
  • Dyadic sorting
  • MRI phantom
  • SNR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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