Influence of steady background gradients on the accuracy of molecular diffusion anisotropy measurements

Cristina Rossi, Andreas Boss, Petros Martirosian, Günter Steidle, Silvia Capuani, Claus D. Claussen, Bruno Maraviglia, Fritz Schick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatial susceptibility variations of body components lead to local gradients of the static magnetic field. Effects of such background gradients on fractional diffusion anisotropy (FA) measurements on whole-body magnetic resonance units operating at 1.5, 3.0 and 7.0 T were analyzed theoretically and experimentally. Analytical expressions were derived for the cases of diffusion occurring in isotropic media and in tissues with cylindrical symmetry (e.g., white matter tracts or skeletal musculature). Typical magnitudes of background gradient strengths were estimated from in vivo and in vitro measurements with B0 field mapping sequences. Additionally, numerical simulations of magnetic field distributions and resulting field gradients were performed considering tissue-air interfaces in simplified geometrical arrangements. For media with isotropic diffusion, both measurements and analytical calculations showed increasing FA inaccuracy with stronger coupling between diffusion-encoding and background gradients. For cylindrical symmetry, FA values were estimated for a standard diffusion tensor imaging protocol in a realistic scenario. At 1 mm distance from a water-air interface, susceptibility-related background gradients amount to approximately 9 mT/m at 7 T and lead to a relative error of the measured FA of up to 48%. The error in the anisotropy assessment rises considerably with increasing field strength and must be taken into account especially for experimental and clinical studies on modern high-field systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1250-1258
Number of pages9
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • Background gradients
  • Diffusion anisotropy
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Magnetic field inhomogeneities
  • Magnetic susceptibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biomedical Engineering


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