Diffusion-regularized susceptibility tensor imaging (DRSTI) of tissue microstructures in the human brain

Lijun Bao, Congcong Xiong, Wenping Wei, Zhong Chen, Peter C.M. van Zijl, Xu Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Susceptibility tensor imaging (STI) has been proposed as an alternative to diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for non-invasive in vivo characterization of brain tissue microstructure and white matter fiber architecture, potentially benefitting from its high spatial resolution. In spite of different biophysical mechanisms, animal studies have demonstrated white matter fiber directions measured using STI to be reasonably consistent with those from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). However, human brain STI is hampered by its requirement of acquiring data at more than 10 head rotations and a complicated processing pipeline. In this paper, we propose a diffusion-regularized STI method (DRSTI) that employs a tensor spectral decomposition constraint to regularize the STI solution using the fiber directions estimated by DTI as a priori. We then explore the high-resolution DRSTI with MR phase images acquired at only 6 head orientations. Compared to other STI approaches, the DRSTI generated susceptibility tensor components, mean magnetic susceptibility (MMS), magnetic susceptibility anisotropy (MSA) and fiber direction maps with fewer artifacts, especially in regions with large susceptibility variations, and with less erroneous quantifications. In addition, the DRSTI method allows us to distinguish more structural features that could not be identified in DTI, especially in deep gray matters. DRSTI enables a more accurate susceptibility tensor estimation with a reduced number of sampling orientations, and achieves better tracking of fiber pathways than previous STI attempts on in vivo human brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101827
JournalMedical image analysis
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Deep gray matter nuclei
  • Fiber pathways
  • In vivo human brain
  • Susceptibility tensor imaging
  • Tensor spectral decomposition
  • Tissue microstructures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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