Denoising diffusion weighted imaging data using convolutional neural networks


Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) with multiple, high b-values is critical for extracting tissue microstructure measurements; however, high b-value DWI images contain high noise levels that can overwhelm the signal of interest and bias microstructural measurements. Here, we propose a simple denoising method that can be applied to any dataset, provided a low-noise, single-subject dataset is acquired using the same DWI sequence. The denoising method uses a one-dimensional convolutional neural network (1D-CNN) and deep learning to learn from a low-noise dataset, voxel-by-voxel. The trained model can then be applied to high-noise datasets from other subjects. We validated the 1D-CNN denoising method by first demonstrating that 1D-CNN denoising resulted in DWI images that were more similar to the noise-free ground truth than comparable denoising methods, e.g., MP-PCA, using simulated DWI data. Using the same DWI acquisition but reconstructed with two common reconstruction methods, i.e. SENSE1 and sum-of-square, to generate a pair of low-noise and high-noise datasets, we then demonstrated that 1D-CNN denoising of high-noise DWI data collected from human subjects showed promising results in three domains: DWI images, diffusion metrics, and tractography. In particular, the denoised images were very similar to a low-noise reference image of that subject, more than the similarity between repeated low-noise images (i.e. computational reproducibility). Finally, we demonstrated the use of the 1D-CNN method in two practical examples to reduce noise from parallel imaging and simultaneous multi-slice acquisition. We conclude that the 1D-CNN denoising method is a simple, effective denoising method for DWI images that overcomes some of the limitations of current state-of-the-art denoising methods, such as the need for a large number of training subjects and the need to account for the rectified noise floor.

Cheng, H., Vinci-Booher, S., Wang, J., Caron, B., Wen, Q., Newman, S., & Pestilli, F. (2022). Denoising diffusion weighted imaging data using convolutional neural networks. In P.-T. Yap (Ed.), PLOS ONE (Vol. 17, Issue 9, p. e0274396). Public Library of Science (PLoS).