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posted on 08.03.2018, 09:14 by Graham C. Warner, Karl G. Helmer

As the sharing of data is mandated by funding agencies and journals, reuse of data has become more prevalent. It becomes imperative, therefore, to develop methods to characterize the similarity of data. While users can group data based on the acquisition parameters stored in the file headers, these gives no indication whether a file can be combined with other data without increasing the variance in the data set. Methods have been implemented that characterize the signal-to-noise ratio or identify signal drop-outs in the raw image files, but potential users of data often have access to calculated metric maps and these are more difficult to characterize and compare. Here we describe a histogram-distance-based method applied to diffusion metric maps of fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity that were generated using data extracted from a repository of clinically-acquired MRI data. We describe the generation of the data set, the pitfalls specific to diffusion MRI data, and the results of the histogram distance analysis. We find that, in general, data from GE scanners are less similar than are data from Siemens scanners. We also find that the distribution of distance metric values is not Gaussian at any selection of the acquisition parameters considered here (field strength, number of gradient directions, b-value, and vendor).