Self-supervised IVIM DWI parameter estimation with a physics based forward model
Serge Didenko Vasylechko, Simon K. Warfield, Onur Afacan, Sila Kurugol
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
To assess the robustness and repeatability of intravoxel incoherent motion model (IVIM) parameter estimation for the diffusion-weighted MRI in the abdominal organs under the constraints of noisy diffusion signal using a novel neural network method.
Clinically acquired abdominal scans of Crohn’s disease patients were retrospectively analyzed with regions segmented in the kidney cortex, spleen, liver, and bowel. A novel IVIM parameter fitting method based on the principle of a physics guided self-supervised convolutional neural network that does not require reference parameter estimates for training was compared to a conventional non-linear least squares (NNLS) algorithm, and a voxelwise trained artificial neural network (ANN).
Results showed substantial increase in parameter robustness to the noise corrupted signal. In an intra-session repeatability experiment, the proposed method showed reduced coefficient of variation (CoV) over multiple acquisitions in comparison to conventional NLLS method and comparable performance to ANN. The use of D and f estimates from the proposed method led to the smallest misclassification error in linear discriminant analysis for characterization between normal and abnormal Crohn’s disease bowel tissue. The fitting of parameter remains to be challenging.
The proposed method yields robust estimates of D and f IVIM parameters under the constraints of noisy diffusion signal. This indicates a potential for the use of the proposed method in conjunction with accelerated DW-MRI acquisition strategies, which would typically result in lower signal to noise ratio.