Processing of diffusion MR images of the brain: from crossing fibres to distributed tractography

Sotiropoulos, Stamatios N. (2010) Processing of diffusion MR images of the brain: from crossing fibres to distributed tractography. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Diffusion-weighted (DW) magnetic resonance imaging allows the quantification of water diffusion within tissue. Due to the hindrance of water molecules by the various tissue compartments, probing for the diffusive properties of a region can provide information on the underlying structure. This is particularly useful for the human brain, whose anatomy is complex. Diffusion imaging provides currently the only tool to study the brain connectivity and organization non-invasively and in-vivo, through a group of methods, commonly referred to as tractography methods.

This thesis is concerned with brain anatomical connectivity and tractography. The goal is to elucidate problems with existing approaches used to process DW images and propose solutions and methods through new frameworks. These concern data from two popular DW imaging protocols, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI), or Q-ball imaging in particular. One of the problems tackled is resolving crossing fibre configurations, a major concern in DW imaging, using data that can be routinely acquired in a clinical setting. The physical constraint of spatial continuity of the diffusion environment is imposed throughout the brain volume, using a multi-tensor model and a regularization method. The new approach is shown to improve tractography results through crossing regions. Quantitative tractography algorithms are also proposed that, apart from reconstructing the white matter tracts, assign relative indices of anatomical connectivity to all regions. A fuzzy algorithm is presented for assessing orientational coherence of neuronal tracts, reflecting the fuzzy nature of medical images. As shown for different tracts, where a-priori anatomical knowledge exists, regions that are coherently connected and possibly belong to the same tract can be differentiated from the background. In a different framework, elements of graph theory are used to develop a new tractography algorithm that can utilize information from multiple image modalities to assess brain connectivity. Both algorithms inherently consider crossing fibre information and are shown to solve problems that affect existing methods.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Tench, C.
Bai, L.
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WL Nervous system
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Clinical Sciences
UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 11164
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2010 14:20
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 02:34

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