Heterogeneous multifrequency direct inversion (HMDI) for magnetic resonance elastography with application to a clinical brain exam

Barnhill, Eric and Davies, Penny J. and Ariyurek, Cemre and Fehlner, Andreas and Braun, Jüergen and Sack, Ingolf (2018) Heterogeneous multifrequency direct inversion (HMDI) for magnetic resonance elastography with application to a clinical brain exam. Medical Image Analysis, 46. pp. 180-188. ISSN 1361-8415 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.media.2018.03.003)

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A new viscoelastic wave inversion method for MRE, called Heterogeneous Multifrequency Direct Inversion (HMDI), was developed which accommodates heterogeneous elasticity within a direct inversion (DI) by incorporating first-order gradients and combining results from a narrow band of multiple frequencies. The method is compared with a Helmholtz-type DI, Multifrequency Dual Elasto-Visco inversion (MDEV), both on ground-truth Finite Element Method simulations at varied noise levels and a prospective in vivo brain cohort of 48 subjects ages 18–65. In simulated data, MDEV recovered background material within 5% and HMDI within 1% of prescribed up to SNR of 20 dB. In vivo HMDI and MDEV were then combined with segmentation from SPM to create a fully automated “brain palpation” exam for both whole brain (WB), and brain white matter (WM), measuring two parameters, the complex modulus magnitude |G*| , which measures tissue “stiffness”, and the slope of |G*| values across frequencies, a measure of viscous dispersion. |G*| values for MDEV and HMDI were comparable to the literature (for a 3-frequency set centered at 50 Hz, WB means were 2.17 and 2.15 kPa respectively, and WM means were 2.47 and 2.49 kPa respectively). Both methods showed moderate correlation to age in both WB and WM, for both |G*| and |G*| slope, with Pearson’s r ≥ 0.4 in the most sensitive frequency sets. In comparison to MDEV, HMDI showed better preservation of recovered target shapes, more noise-robustness, and stabler recovery values in regions with rapid property change, however summary statistics for both methods were quite similar. By eliminating homogeneity assumptions within a fast, fully automatic, regularization-free direct inversion, HMDI appears to be a worthwhile addition to the MRE image reconstruction repertoire. In addition to supporting the literature showing decrease in brain viscoelasticity with age, our work supports a wide range of inter-individual variation in brain MRE results.