Reproducibility of quantitative magnetization-transfer imaging parameters from repeated measurements
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Quantitative magnetization-transfer imaging methods provide in vivo estimates of parameters of the two-pool model for magnetization-transfer in tissue. The goal of this study was to evaluate the reproducibility of quantitative magnetization-transfer imaging parameter estimates in healthy subjects. Magnetization-transfer-weighted and T(1) relaxometry data were acquired in five healthy subjects at multiple time points, and the variability of the resulting fitted magnetization-transfer parameters was evaluated. The impact of subsampling the magnetization-transfer data and correcting field inhomogeneities was also evaluated. The key parameters measured in this study had an average variability, across time points, of 4.7% for the relative size of the restricted pool (F), 7.3% for the forward exchange constant (k(f)), 1.9% for the free pool spin-lattice relaxation constant (R(1f)), 4.5% for the T(2) of the free pool (T(2f)), and 2.3% for the T(2) of the restricted pool (T(2r)). Our findings show that serial quantitative magnetization-transfer imaging experiments can be performed reliably, with good reproducibility of the model parameter estimates, and demonstrate the reproducibility of acquisition schemes with fewer magnetization-transfer contrasts. This establishes the feasibility of this technique for monitoring patients affected by degenerative white matter diseases while providing critical data to estimate the statistical power of such studies.
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