TH-CD-206-01: Expectation-Maximization Algorithm-Based Tissue Mixture Quantification for Perfusion MRI




To investigate the feasibility of estimating the tissue mixture perfusions and quantifying cerebral blood flow change in arterial spin labeled (ASL) perfusion MR images.


The proposed perfusion MR image analysis framework consists of 5 steps: (1) Inhomogeneity correction was performed on the T1- and T2-weighted images, which are available for each studied perfusion MR dataset. (2) We used the publicly available FSL toolbox to strip off the non-brain structures from the T1- and T2-weighted MR images. (3) We applied a multi-spectral tissue-mixture segmentation algorithm on both T1- and T2-structural MR images to roughly estimate the fraction of each tissue type - white matter, grey matter and cerebral spinal fluid inside each image voxel. (4) The distributions of the three tissue types or tissue mixture across the structural image array are down-sampled and mapped onto the ASL voxel array via a co-registration operation. (5) The presented 4-dimensional expectation-maximization (4D-EM) algorithm takes the down-sampled three tissue type distributions on perfusion image data to generate the perfusion mean, variance and percentage images for each tissue type of interest.


Experimental results on three volunteer datasets demonstrated that the multi-spectral tissue-mixture segmentation algorithm was effective to initialize tissue mixtures from T1- and T2-weighted MR images. Compared with the conventional ASL image processing toolbox, the proposed 4D-EM algorithm not only generated comparable perfusion mean images, but also produced perfusion variance and percentage images, which the ASL toolbox cannot obtain. It is observed that the perfusion contribution percentages may not be the same as the corresponding tissue mixture volume fractions estimated in the structural images.


A specific application to brain ASL images showed that the presented perfusion image analysis method is promising for detecting subtle changes in tissue perfusions, which is valuable for the early diagnosis of certain brain diseases, e.g. multiple sclerosis.