MR fingerprinting (MRF) is a promising method for quantitative characterization of tissues. Often, voxel-wise measurements are made, assuming a single tissue-type per voxel. Alternatively, the Sparsity Promoting Iterative Joint Non-negative least squares Multi-Component MRF method (SPIJN-MRF) facilitates tissue parameter estimation for identified components as well as partial volume segmentations. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the accuracy and repeatability of the SPIJN-MRF parameter estimations and partial volume segmentations. This was done (1) through numerical simulations based on the BrainWeb phantoms and (2) using in vivo acquired MRF data from 5 subjects that were scanned on the same week-day for 8 consecutive weeks. The partial volume segmentations of the SPIJN-MRF method were compared to those obtained by two conventional methods: SPM12 and FSL. SPIJN-MRF showed higher accuracy in simulations in comparison to FSL- and SPM12-based segmentations: Fuzzy Tanimoto Coefficients (FTC) comparing these segmentations and Brainweb references were higher than 0.95 for SPIJN-MRF in all the tissues and between 0.6 and 0.7 for SPM12 and FSL in white and gray matter and between 0.5 and 0.6 in CSF. For the in vivo MRF data, the estimated relaxation times were in line with literature and minimal variation was observed. Furthermore, the coefficient of variation (CoV) for estimated tissue volumes with SPIJN-MRF were 10.5% for the myelin water, 6.0% for the white matter, 5.6% for the gray matter, 4.6% for the CSF and 1.1% for the total brain volume. CoVs for CSF and total brain volume measured on the scanned data for SPIJN-MRF were in line with those obtained with SPM12 and FSL. The CoVs for white and gray matter volumes were distinctively higher for SPIJN-MRF than those measured with SPM12 and FSL. In conclusion, the use of SPIJN-MRF provides accurate and precise tissue relaxation parameter estimations taking into account intrinsic partial volume effects. It facilitates obtaining tissue fraction maps of prevalent tissues including myelin water which can be relevant for evaluating diseases affecting the white matter.
- Multi-component MR Fingerprinting
- Quantitative MRI