Statistical estimation of T1 relaxation times using conventioanl magnetic resonance imaging
Quantitative T1 maps estimate T1 relaxation times and can be used to assess diuse tissue abnormalities within normal-appearing tissue. T1 maps are popular for studying the progression and treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, their inclusion in standard imaging protocols remains limited due to the additional scanning time and expert calibration required and susceptibility to bias and noise. Here, we propose a new method of estimating T1 maps using four conventional MR images, which are intensity- normalized using cerebellar gray matter as a reference tissue and related to T1 using a smooth regression model. Using leave-one-out cross-validation, we generate statistical T1 maps for 61 subjects with MS. The statistical maps are less noisy than the acquired maps and show similar accuracy. Tests of group differences in normal-appearing white matter across MS subtypes give similar results using both methods, but tests performed using statistical maps are more powerful.