The effect of finite diffusion gradient pulse duration on fibre orientation estimation in diffusion MRI

Chun Hung Yeh, J. Donald Tournier, Kuan Hung Cho, Ching Po Lin*, Fernando Calamante, Alan Connelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

21 Scopus citations


An essential step for fibre-tracking is the accurate estimation of neuronal fibre orientations within each imaging voxel, and a number of methods have been proposed to reconstruct the orientation distribution function based on sampling three-dimensional q-space. In the q-space formalism, very short (infinitesimal) gradient pulses are the basic requirement to obtain the true spin displacement probability density function. On current clinical MR systems however, the diffusion gradient pulse duration (δ) is inevitably finite due to the limit on the achievable gradient intensity. The failure to satisfy the short gradient pulse (SGP) requirement has been a recurrent criticism for fibre orientation estimation based on the q-space approach. In this study, the influence of a finite Δ on the DW signal measured as a function of gradient direction is described theoretically and demonstrated through simulations and experimental models. Our results suggest that the current practice of using long Δ for DW imaging on human clinical MR scanners, which is enforced by hardware limitations, might in fact be beneficial for estimating fibre orientations. For a given b-value, the prolongation of δ is advantageous for estimating fibre orientations for two reasons: first, it leads to a boost in DW signal in the transverse plane of the fibre. Second, it stretches out the shape of the measured diffusion profile, which improves the contrast between DW orientations. This is especially beneficial for resolving crossing fibres, as this contrast is essential to discriminate between different fibre directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-751
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 06 2010
Externally publishedYes


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