Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine the quantitative variability of diffusion weighted imaging and apparent diffusion coefficient values across a large fleet of MR systems. Using a NIST traceable magnetic resonance imaging diffusion phantom, imaging was reproducible and the measurements were quantitatively compared to known values.
Methods A fleet of 23 clinical MRI scanners was investigated in this study. A NIST/QIBA DWI phantom was imaged with protocols provided with the phantom. The resulting images were analyzed and ADC maps were generated. User-directed region-of-interests on each of the different vials provided ADC measurements among a wide range of known ADC values.
Results Three diffusion phantoms were used in this study and compared to one another. From the one-way analysis of the variance, the mean and standard deviation of the percent errors from each phantom were not significantly different from one another. The low ADC vials showed larger errors and variation and appear directly related to SNR. Across all the MR systems and data, the coefficient of variation was calculated and Bland-Altman analysis was performed. ADC measurements were similar to one another except for the vials with the lower ADC values, which had a higher coefficient of variation.
Conclusion ADC values among the three phantoms showed good agreement and were not significantly different from one another. The large percent errors seen primarily at the low ADC values were shown to be a consequence of the SNR dependence and very little bias was observed between magnetic strengths and manufacturers. ADC values between diffusion phantoms were not statistically significant. Future investigations will be performed to study differences in magnetic field strength, vendor, MR system models, gradients, and bore size. More data across different MR platforms would facilitate quantitative measurements for multi-platform and multi-site imaging studies. With the increasing usage of diffusion weighted imaging in the clinic, the characterization of ADC variability for MR systems provides an improved quality control over the MR systems.