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.

Committee Member

Khader M. Hasan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

F. Gerard Moeller, M.D.

Committee Member

R. Jason Stafford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard E. Wendt, III, Ph.D.


Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) is a noninvasive technique for quantitative assessment of the integrity of blood-brain barrier and blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) in the presence of central nervous system pathologies. However, the results of DCE-MRI show substantial variability. The high variability can be caused by a number of factors including inaccurate T1 estimation, insufficient temporal resolution and poor contrast-to-noise ratio. My thesis work is to develop improved methods to reduce the variability of DCE-MRI results. To obtain fast and accurate T1 map, the Look-Locker acquisition technique was implemented with a novel and truly centric k-space segmentation scheme. In addition, an original multi-step curve fitting procedure was developed to increase the accuracy of T1 estimation. A view sharing acquisition method was implemented to increase temporal resolution, and a novel normalization method was introduced to reduce image artifacts. Finally, a new clustering algorithm was developed to reduce apparent noise in the DCE-MRI data. The performance of these proposed methods was verified by simulations and phantom studies. As part of this work, the proposed techniques were applied to an in vivo DCE-MRI study of experimental spinal cord injury (SCI). These methods have shown robust results and allow quantitative assessment of regions with very low vascular permeability. In conclusion, applications of the improved DCE-MRI acquisition and analysis methods developed in this thesis work can improve the accuracy of the DCE-MRI results.


DCE-MRI, Look-Locker T1 map, chi-square weighted filtering, view sharing acquisition, clustering algorithm, spinal cord injury, blood-spinal cord barrier permeability



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