In quantitative MR T1 mapping, the spin-lattice relaxation time T1 of tissues is estimated from a series of T1-weighted images. As the T1 estimation is a voxel-wise estimation procedure, correct spatial alignment of the T1-weighted images is crucial. Conventionally, the T1-weighted images are first registered based on a general-purpose registration metric, after which the T1 map is estimated. However, as demonstrated in this paper, such a two-step approach leads to a bias in the final T1 map. In our work, instead of considering motion correction as a preprocessing step, we recover the motion-free T1 map using a unified estimation approach. In particular, we propose a unified framework where the motion parameters and the T1 map are simultaneously estimated with a Maximum Likelihood (ML) estimator. With our framework, the relaxation model, the motion model as well as the data statistics are jointly incorporated to provide substantially more accurate motion and T1 parameter estimates. Experiments with realistic Monte Carlo simulations show that the proposed unified ML framework outperforms the conventional two-step approach as well as state-of-the-art modelbased approaches, in terms of both motion and T1 map accuracy and mean-square error. Furthermore, the proposed method was additionally validated in a controlled experiment with real T1-weighted data and with two in vivo human brain T1-weighted data sets, showing its applicability in real-life scenarios.
Bibliographical noteAccepted Author Manuscript
- dynamic MRI
- Maximum Likelihood
- motion correction
- T1 mapping