Characterization of and correction for eddy current artifacts in echo planar diffusion imaging.
Jezzard P., Barnett AS., Pierpaoli C.
Magnetic resonance diffusion imaging is potentially an important tool for the noninvasive characterization of normal and pathological tissue. The technique, however, is prone to a number of artifacts that can severely affect its ability to provide clinically useful information. In this study, the problem of eddy current-induced geometric distortions that occur in diffusion images acquired with echo planar sequences was addressed. These geometric distortions produce artifacts in computed maps of diffusion parameters and are caused by misalignments in the individual diffusion-weighted images that comprise the diffusion data set. A new approach is presented to characterize and calibrate the eddy current effects, enabling the eddy current distortions to be corrected in sets of interleaved (or snapshot) echo planar diffusion images. Correction is achieved by acquiring one-dimensional field maps in the read and phase encode direction for each slice and each diffusion step. The method is then demonstrated through the correction of distortions in diffusion images of the human brain. It is shown that by using the eddy current correction scheme outlined, the eddy current-induced artifacts in the diffusion-weighted images are almost completely eliminated. In addition, there is a significant improvement in the quality of the resulting diffusion tensor maps.