Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Medical Physics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Ponnada A. Narayana, Ph.D., Supervisory Professor

Committee Member

Khader M. Hasan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John D. Hazle, Ph.D.

Committee Member

F. Gerard Moeller, M.D.

Committee Member

Richard E. Wendt, III, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jerry S. Wolinsky, M.D.


High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging (HARDI) techniques, including Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI), have been proposed to resolve crossing and other complex fiber architecture in the human brain white matter. In these methods, directional information of diffusion is inferred from the peaks in the orientation distribution function (ODF). Extensive studies using histology on macaque brain, cat cerebellum, rat hippocampus and optic tracts, and bovine tongue are qualitatively in agreement with the DSI-derived ODFs and tractography. However, there are only two studies in the literature which validated the DSI results using physical phantoms and both these studies were not performed on a clinical MRI scanner. Also, the limited studies which optimized DSI in a clinical setting, did not involve a comparison against physical phantoms. Finally, there is lack of consensus on the necessary pre- and post-processing steps in DSI; and ground truth diffusion fiber phantoms are not yet standardized. Therefore, the aims of this dissertation were to design and construct novel diffusion phantoms, employ post-processing techniques in order to systematically validate and optimize (DSI)-derived fiber ODFs in the crossing regions on a clinical 3T MR scanner, and develop user-friendly software for DSI data reconstruction and analysis. Phantoms with a fixed crossing fiber configuration of two crossing fibers at 90° and 45° respectively along with a phantom with three crossing fibers at 60°, using novel hollow plastic capillaries and novel placeholders, were constructed. T2-weighted MRI results on these phantoms demonstrated high SNR, homogeneous signal, and absence of air bubbles. Also, a technique to deconvolve the response function of an individual peak from the overall ODF was implemented, in addition to other DSI post-processing steps. This technique greatly improved the angular resolution of the otherwise unresolvable peaks in a crossing fiber ODF. The effects of DSI acquisition parameters and SNR on the resultant angular accuracy of DSI on the clinical scanner were studied and quantified using the developed phantoms. With a high angular direction sampling and reasonable levels of SNR, quantification of a crossing region in the 90°, 45° and 60° phantoms resulted in a successful detection of angular information with mean ± SD of 86.93°±2.65°, 44.61°±1.6° and 60.03°±2.21° respectively, while simultaneously enhancing the ODFs in regions containing single fibers. For the applicability of these validated methodologies in DSI, improvement in ODFs and fiber tracking from known crossing fiber regions in normal human subjects were demonstrated; and an in-house software package in MATLAB which streamlines the data reconstruction and post-processing for DSI, with easy to use graphical user interface was developed. In conclusion, the phantoms developed in this dissertation offer a means of providing ground truth for validation of reconstruction and tractography algorithms of various diffusion models (including DSI). Also, the deconvolution methodology (when applied as an additional DSI post-processing step) significantly improved the angular accuracy of the ODFs obtained from DSI, and should be applicable to ODFs obtained from the other high angular resolution diffusion imaging techniques.


Diffusion Spectrum Imaging, DSI, DTI, MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Diffusion Phantom, Deconvolution, Orientation Distribution Function, ODF, High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging, HARDI



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