Measurement of MRI scanner performance with the ADNI phantom

Jeffrey L. Gunter, Matt A. Bernstein, Brett J. Borowski, Chadwick P. Ward, Paula J. Britson, Joel P. Felmlee, Norbert Schuff, Michael Weiner, Clifford R. Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study are as follows: to describe practical implementation challenges of multisite, multivendor quantitative studies; to describe the MRI phantom and analysis software used in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) study, illustrate the utility of the system for measuring scanner performance, the ability to assess gradient field nonlinearity corrections: and to recover human brain images without geometric scaling errors in multisite studies. ADNI is a large multicenter study with each center having its own copy of the phantom. The design of the phantom and analysis software are presented as results from predistribution systematics studies and results from field experience with the phantom at 58 enrolling ADNI sites over a 3 year period. The estimated coefficients of variation intrinsic to measurements of geometry in a single phantom are in the range of 3-5 parts in 104. Phantom measurements accurately detect linear and nonlinear scaling in images. Gradient unwarping methods are readily assessed by phantom nonlinearity measurements. Phantom-based scaling correction reduces observed geometric drift in human images by one-third or more. Repair or replacement of phantoms between scans, however, is a confounding factor. The ADNI phantom can be used to assess both scanner performance and the validity of postprocessing image corrections in order to reduce systematic errors in human images. Reduced measurement errors should decrease measurement bias and increase statistical power for measurements of rates of change in the brain structure in AD treatment trials. Perhaps the greatest practical value of incorporating ADNI phantom measurements in a multisite study is to identify scanner errors through central monitoring. This approach has resulted in identification of system errors including sites misidentification of their own gradient hardware and the disabling of autoshim, and a miscalibrated laser alignment light. If undetected, these errors would have contributed to imprecision in quantitative metrics at over 25% of all enrolling ADNI sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2193-2205
Number of pages13
JournalMedical physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009


  • ADNI
  • Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative
  • Multicenter trial
  • Phantom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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