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Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) is an important tool for detecting subtle kinetic changes in cancerous tissue. Quantitative analysis of DCE-MRI typically involves the convolution of an arterial input function (AIF) with a nonlinear pharmacokinetic model of the contrast agent concentration. Parameters of the kinetic model are biologically meaningful, but the optimization of the nonlinear model has significant computational issues. In practice, convergence of the optimization algorithm is not guaranteed and the accuracy of the model fitting may be compromised. To overcome these problems, this paper proposes a semi-parametric penalized spline smoothing approach, where the AIF is convolved with a set of B-splines to produce a design matrix using locally adaptive smoothing parameters based on Bayesian penalized spline models (P-splines). It has been shown that kinetic parameter estimation can be obtained from the resulting deconvolved response function, which also includes the onset of contrast enhancement. Detailed validation of the method, both with simulated and in vivo data, is provided.
Date of Publication: June 2009