Purpose: To compare registration strategies to align arterial spin labeling (ASL) with 3D T1-weighted (T1w) images, with the goal of reducing the between-subject variability of cerebral blood flow (CBF) images. Materials and Methods: Multi-center 3T ASL data were collected at eight sites with four different sequences in the multi-center GENetic Frontotemporal dementia Initiative (GENFI) study. In a total of 48 healthy controls, we compared the following image registration options: (I) which images to use for registration (perfusion-weighted images [PWI] to the segmented gray matter (GM) probability map (pGM) (CBF-pGM) or M0 to T1w (M0-T1w); (II) which transformation to use (rigid-body or non-rigid); and (III) whether to mask or not (no masking, M0-based FMRIB software library Brain Extraction Tool [BET] masking). In addition to visual comparison, we quantified image similarity using the Pearson correlation coefficient (CC), and used the Mann-Whitney U rank sum test. Results: CBF-pGM outperformed M0-T1w (CC improvement 47.2% ± 22.0%; P < 0.001), and the non-rigid transformation outperformed rigid-body (20.6% ± 5.3%; P < 0.001). Masking only improved the M0-T1w rigid-body registration (14.5% ± 15.5%; P = 0.007). Conclusion: The choice of image registration strategy impacts ASL group analyses. The non-rigid transformation is promising but requires validation. CBF-pGM rigid-body registration without masking can be used as a default strategy. In patients with expansive perfusion deficits, M0-T1w may outperform CBF-pGM in sequences with high effective spatial resolution. BET-masking only improves M0-T1w registration when the M0 image has sufficient contrast.

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Keywords Arterial spin labeling, Cerebral blood flow, Image registration
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmri.25751, hdl.handle.net/1765/99933
Journal Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Mutsaerts, H.J.M.M, Petr, J. (Jan), Thomas, D.L, Vita, E.d. (Enrico de), Cash, D.M, Osch, M.J.v. (Matthias J.P. van), … MacIntosh, B.J. (2017). Comparison of arterial spin labeling registration strategies in the multi-center GENetic frontotemporal dementia initiative (GENFI). Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging. doi:10.1002/jmri.25751