Anisotropy induced by macroscopic boundaries: Surface-normal mapping using diffusion-weighted imaging

Evren Özarslan*, Uri Nevo, Peter J. Basser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In MRI, macroscopic boundaries lead to a diffusion-related increase in signal intensity near them - an effect commonly referred to as edge-enhancement. In diffusion-weighted imaging protocols where the signal attenuation due to diffusion results predominantly from the application of magnetic field gradients, edge-enhancement will depend on the orientation of these diffusion gradients. The resulting diffusion anisotropy can be exploited to map the direction normal to the macroscopic boundary. Simulations suggest that the hypothesized anisotropy may be within observable limits even when the voxel contains no boundary itself - hence, the name remote-anisotropy. Moreover, for certain experimental parameters there may be significant phase cancellations within the voxel that may lead to an edge detraction effect. When this is avoided, the eigenvector corresponding to the smallest eigenvalue of the diffusion tensor obtained from diffusion-tensor imaging can be used to create surface-normal maps conveniently. Experiments performed on simple geometric constructs as well as real tissue demonstrate the feasibility of using the edge-enhancement mechanism to map orientations orthogonal to macroscopic surfaces, which may be used to assess the integrity of tissue and organ boundaries noninvasively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2809-2818
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentZIAHD000266


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