A deep learning-based method for improving reliability of multicenter diffusion kurtosis imaging with varied acquisition protocols

Qiqi Tong, Ting Gong, Hongjian He, Zheng Wang, Wenwen Yu, Jianjun Zhang, Lihao Zhai, Hongsheng Cui, Xin Meng, Chantal W M Tax, Jianhui Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Multicenter magnetic resonance imaging is gaining more popularity in large-sample projects. Since both varying hardware and software across different centers cause unavoidable data heterogeneity across centers, its impact on reliability in study outcomes has also drawn much attention recently. One fundamental issue arises in how to derive model parameters reliably from image data of varying quality. This issue is even more challenging for advanced diffusion methods such as diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI). Recently, deep learning-based methods have been demonstrated with their potential for robust and efficient computation of diffusion-derived measures. Inspired by these approaches, the current study specifically designed a framework based on a three-dimensional hierarchical convolutional neural network, to jointly reconstruct and harmonize DKI measures from multicenter acquisition to reformulate these to a state-of-the-art hardware using data from traveling subjects. The results from the harmonized data acquired with different protocols show that: 1) the inter-scanner variation of DKI measures within white matter was reduced by 51.5% in mean kurtosis, 65.9% in axial kurtosis, 53.7% in radial kurtosis, and 61.5% in kurtosis fractional anisotropy, respectively; 2) data reliability of each single scanner was enhanced and brought to the level of the reference scanner; and 3) the harmonization network was able to reconstruct reliable DKI values from high data variability. Overall the results demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed deep learning-based method for DKI harmonization and help to simplify the protocol setup procedure for multicenter scanners with different hardware and software configurations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Deep learning
  • Diffusion kurtosis imaging
  • Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging
  • Multicenter harmonization


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