Image quality of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is critical for image interpretation, diagnostic accuracy and efficiency. However, DTI is susceptible to numerous detrimental artifacts that may impair the reliability and validity of the obtained data. Although many quality control (QC) software tools are being developed and are widely used and each has its different tradeoffs, there is still no general agreement on an image quality control routine for DTIs, and the practical impact of these tradeoffs is not well studied. An objective comparison that identifies the pros and cons of each of the QC tools will be helpful for the users to make the best choice among tools for specific DTI applications. This study aims to quantitatively compare the effectiveness of three popular QC tools including DTI studio (Johns Hopkins University), DTIprep (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Iowa and University of Utah) and TORTOISE (National Institute of Health). Both synthetic and in vivo human brain data were used to quantify adverse effects of major DTI artifacts to tensor calculation as well as the effectiveness of different QC tools in identifying and correcting these artifacts. The technical basis of each tool was discussed, and the ways in which particular techniques affect the output of each of the tools were analyzed. The different functions and I/O formats that three QC tools provide for building a general DTI processing pipeline and integration with other popular image processing tools were also discussed.
- Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
- Quality control