Stability and reproducibility of co-electrospun brain-mimicking phantoms for quality assurance of diffusion MRI sequences


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Abstract

Grey and white matter mimicking phantoms are important for assessing variations in diffusion MR measures at a single time point and over an extended period of time. This work investigates the stability of brain-mimicking microfibre phantoms and reproducibility of their MR derived diffusion parameters. The microfibres were produced by co-electrospinning and characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Grey matter and white matter phantoms were constructed from random and aligned microfibres, respectively. MR data were acquired from these phantoms over a period of 33 months. SEM images revealed that only small changes in fibre microstructure occurred over 30 months. The coefficient of variation in MR measurements across all time-points was between 1.6% and 3.4% for MD across all phantoms and FA in white matter phantoms. This was within the limits expected for intra-scanner variability, thereby confirming phantom stability over 33 months. These specialised diffusion phantoms may be used in a clinical environment for intra and inter-site quality assurance purposes, and for validation of quantitative diffusion biomarkers.HIGHLIGHTSGrey and white matter mimicking phantoms showed mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy values typical of tissue.Diffusion measures for the phantoms were stable over 33 months.The porosity of the phantoms was observed to be stable over 30 months.The phantoms may be used for QA purposes in a clinical environment and for validation of quantitative diffusion biomarkers.

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