Reproducibility of quantitative structural and physiological MRI measurements

Stephen A. McGuire, S. Andrea Wijtenburg, Paul M. Sherman, Laura M. Rowland, Meghann Ryan, John H. Sladky, Peter V. Kochunov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Quantitative longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy (MRI/S) is used to assess progress of brain disorders and treatment effects. Understanding the significance of MRI/S changes requires knowledge of the inherent technical and physiological consistency of these measurements. This longitudinal study examined the variance and reproducibility of commonly used quantitative MRI/S measurements in healthy subjects while controlling physiological and technical parameters. Methods: Twenty-five subjects were imaged three times over 5 days on a Siemens 3T Verio scanner equipped with a 32-channel phase array coil. Structural (T1, T2-weighted, and diffusion-weighted imaging) and physiological (pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy) data were collected. Consistency of repeated images was evaluated with mean relative difference, mean coefficient of variation, and intraclass correlation (ICC). Finally, a “reproducibility rating” was calculated based on the number of subjects needed for a 3% and 10% difference. Results: Structural measurements generally demonstrated excellent reproducibility (ICCs 0.872–0.998) with a few exceptions. Moderate-to-low reproducibility was observed for fractional anisotropy measurements in fornix and corticospinal tracts, for cortical gray matter thickness in the entorhinal, insula, and medial orbitofrontal regions, and for the count of the periependymal hyperintensive white matter regions. The reproducibility of physiological measurements ranged from excellent for most of the magnetic resonance spectroscopy measurements to moderate for permeability-diffusivity coefficients in cingulate gray matter to low for regional blood flow in gray and white matter. Discussion: This study demonstrates a high degree of longitudinal consistency across structural and physiological measurements in healthy subjects, defining the inherent variability in these commonly used sequences. Additionally, this study identifies those areas where caution should be exercised in interpretation. Understanding this variability can serve as the basis for interpretation of MRI/S data in the assessment of neurological disorders and treatment effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00759
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • MRI consistency
  • MRI reproducibility
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Reproducibility of quantitative structural and physiological MRI measurements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this