Multicenter stability of diffusion tensor imaging measures: A European clinical and physical phantom study

Stefan J. Teipel, Sigrid Reuter, Bram Stieltjes, Julio Acosta-Cabronero, Ulrike Ernemann, Andreas Fellgiebel, Massimo Filippi, Giovanni Frisoni, Frank Hentschel, Frank Jessen, Stefan Klöppel, Thomas Meindl, Petra J W Pouwels, Karl Heinz Hauenstein, Harald Hampel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) detects white matter damage in neuro-psychiatric disorders, but data on reliability of DTI measures across more than two scanners are still missing. In this study we assessed multicenter reproducibility of DTI acquisitions based on a physical phantom as well as brain scans across 16 scanners. In addition, we performed DTI scans in a group of 26 patients with clinically probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 12 healthy elderly controls at one single center. We determined the variability of fractional anisotropy (FA) measures using manually placed regions of interest as well as automated tract based spatial statistics and deformation based analysis. The coefficient of variation (CV) of FA was 6.9% for the physical phantom data. The mean CV across the multicenter brain scans was 14% for tract based statistics, and 29% for deformation based analysis. The degree of variation was higher in less organized fiber tracts. Our findings suggest that a clinical and physical phantom study involving more than two scanners is indispensable to detect potential sources of bias and to reliably estimate effect size in multicenter diagnostic trials using DTI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-371
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 30 2011


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Early diagnosis
  • Effect size estimation
  • Multicenter studies
  • Physical phantom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)


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