Objective: Partial volume (PV) correction is an important step in arterial spin labeling (ASL) MRI that is used to separate perfusion from structural effects when computing the mean gray matter (GM) perfusion. There are three main methods for performing this correction: (1) GM-threshold, which includes only voxels with GM volume above a preset threshold; (2) GM-weighted, which uses voxel-wise GM contribution combined with thresholding; and (3) PVC, which applies a spatial linear regression algorithm to estimate the flow contribution of each tissue at a given voxel. In all cases, GM volume is obtained using PV maps extracted from the segmentation of the T1-weighted (T1w) image. As such, PV maps contain errors due to the difference in readout type and spatial resolution between ASL and T1w images. Here, we estimated these errors and evaluated their effect on the performance of each PV correction method in computing GM cerebral blood flow (CBF). Materials and methods: Twenty-two volunteers underwent scanning using 2D echo planar imaging (EPI) and 3D spiral ASL. For each PV correction method, GM CBF was computed using PV maps simulated to contain estimated errors due to spatial resolution mismatch and geometric distortions which are caused by the mismatch in readout between ASL and T1w images. Results were analyzed to assess the effect of each error on the estimation of GM CBF from ASL data. Results: Geometric distortion had the largest effect on the 2D EPI data, whereas the 3D spiral was most affected by the resolution mismatch. The PVC method outperformed the GM-threshold even in the presence of combined errors from resolution mismatch and geometric distortions. The quantitative advantage of PVC was 16% without and 10% with the combined errors for both 2D and 3D ASL. Consistent with theoretical expectations, for error-free PV maps, the PVC method extracted the true GM CBF. In contrast, GM-weighted overestimated GM CBF by 5%, while GM-threshold underestimated it by 16%. The presence of PV map errors decreased the calculated GM CBF for all methods. Conclusion: The quality of PV maps presents no argument for the preferential use of the GM-threshold method over PVC in the clinical application of ASL.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Arterial spin labeling, Cerebral blood flow, Partial volume, Perfusion magnetic resonance imaging
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10334-018-0691-y, hdl.handle.net/1765/108921
Journal Magnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine
Petr, J. (Jan), Mutsaerts, H.J.M.M, De Vita, E, Steketee, R.M.E, Smits, M, Nederveen, A.J, … Asllani, I. (Iris). (2018). Effects of systematic partial volume errors on the estimation of gray matter cerebral blood flow with arterial spin labeling MRI. Magnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine, 1–10. doi:10.1007/s10334-018-0691-y