Gradient nonlinearity effects on upper cervical spinal cord area measurement from 3D T1-weighted brain MRI acquisitions

for the North American Imaging in Multiple Sclerosis Cooperative(NAIMS)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: To explore (i) the variability of upper cervical cord area (UCCA) measurements from volumetric brain 3D T1-weighted scans related to gradient nonlinearity (GNL) and subject positioning; (ii) the effect of vendor-implemented GNL corrections; and (iii) easily applicable methods that can be used to retrospectively correct data. Methods: A multiple sclerosis patient was scanned at seven sites using 3T MRI scanners with the same 3D T1-weighted protocol without GNL-distortion correction. Two healthy subjects and a phantom were additionally scanned at a single site with varying table positions. The 2D and 3D vendor-implemented GNL-correction algorithms and retrospective methods based on (i) phantom data fit, (ii) normalization with C2 vertebral body diameters, and (iii) the Jacobian determinant of nonlinear registrations to a template were tested. Results: Depending on the positioning of the subject, GNL introduced up to 15% variability in UCCA measurements from volumetric brain T1-weighted scans when no distortion corrections were used. The 3D vendor-implemented correction methods and the three proposed methods reduced this variability to less than 3%. Conclusions: Our results raise awareness of the significant impact that GNL can have on quantitative UCCA studies, and point the way to prospectively and retrospectively managing GNL distortions in a variety of settings, including clinical environments. Magn Reson Med 79:1595–1601, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1595-1601
Number of pages7
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • 3D T-weighted brain MRI acquisitions
  • correction algorithms
  • gradient nonlinearity
  • spinal cord atrophy
  • upper cervical spinal cord area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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