q-Space diffusion MRI (QSI) provides a means of obtaining microstructural information about porous materials and neuronal tissues from diffusion data. However, the accuracy of this structural information depends on experimental parameters used to collect the MR data. q-Space diffusion MR performed on clinical scanners is generally collected with relatively long diffusion gradient pulses, in which the gradient pulse duration, δ, is comparable to the diffusion time, Δ. In this study, we used phantoms, consisting of ensembles of microtubes, and mathematical models to assess the effect of the ratio of the diffusion time and the duration of the diffusion pulse gradient, i.e., Δ/δ, on the MR signal attenuation vs. q, and on the measured structural information extracted therefrom. We found that for Δ/δ ∼ 1, the diffraction pattern obtained from q-space MR data are shallower than when the short gradient pulse (SGP) approximation is satisfied. For long δ the estimated compartment size is, as expected, smaller than the real size. Interestingly, for Δ/δ ∼ 1 the diffraction peaks are shifted to even higher q-values, even when δ is kept constant, giving the impression that the restricted compartments are even smaller than they are. When phantoms composed of microtubes of different diameters are used, it is more difficult to estimate the diameter distribution in this regime. Excellent agreement is found between the experimental results and simulations that explicitly account for the use of long duration gradient pulses. Using such experimental data and this mathematical framework, one can estimate the true compartment dimensions when long and finite gradient pulses are used even when Δ/δ ∼ 1.
- Diffusion time
- Pulse duration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics