Principal component analysis for fast and model-free denoising of multi b-value diffusion-weighted MR images

Oliver J. Gurney-Champion, David J. Collins, Andreas Wetscherek, Mihaela Rata, Remy Klaassen, Hanneke W. M. van Laarhoven, Kevin J. Harrington, Uwe Oelfke, Matthew R. Orton

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Abstract

Despite the utility of tumour characterisation using quantitative parameter maps from multi-b-value diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI), clinicians often prefer the use of the image with highest diffusion-weighting (b-value), for instance for defining regions of interest (ROIs). However, these images are typically degraded by noise, as they do not utilize the information from the full acquisition. We present a principal component analysis (PCA) approach for model-free denoising of DWI data. PCA-denoising was compared to synthetic MRI, where a diffusion model is fitted for each voxel and a denoised image at a given b-value is generated from the model fit. A quantitative comparison of systematic and random errors was performed on data simulated using several diffusion models (mono-exponential, bi-exponential, stretched-exponential and kurtosis). A qualitative visual comparison was also performed for in vivo images in six healthy volunteers and three pancreatic cancer patients. In simulations, the reduction in random errors from PCA-denoising was substantial (up to 55%) and similar to synthetic MRI (up to 53%). Model-based synthetic MRI denoising resulted in substantial (up to 29% of signal) systematic errors, whereas PCA-denoising was able to denoise without introducing systematic errors (less than 2%). In vivo, the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and sharpness of PCA-denoised images were superior to synthetic MRI, resulting in clearer tumour boundaries. In the presence of motion, PCA-denoising did not cause image blurring, unlike image averaging or synthetic MRI. Multi-b-value MRI can be denoised model-free with our PCA-denoising strategy that reduces noise to a level similar to synthetic MRI, but without introducing systematic errors associated with the synthetic MRI method.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105015
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Volume64
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

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