1) Development of standard methodologies for quantitative measurements of MRI and MRS parameters and correlation with histo- and physiopathology;
2) definition and validation of protocols for performance assessment and calibration of MRI and MRS equipment;
3) wide-spread application and harmonization of these protocols in Europe;
4) use of calibrated MRI equipment for a multi-center programme of in-vivo MRI measurements on human tissues;
5) development of pilot multi-center collections of in-vitro and in-vivo data, in order to provide reference information against which individual measurements could be assessed.
The project has developed standardized methodologies in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) for application in the European Community (EC) by: holding topical workshops and working group meetings to propose and finalize procedures, test objects and reference materials; evaluation of protocols in multicentre trials; interlaboratory exchanges of personnel. In the field of MRI the project developed original protocols and test objects for performance assessment and quality control of clinical equipment an image conversion software package for interlaboratory exchange of MR images and pilot data bases of in vitro and in vivo tissue relaxation times. In the field of MRS, the project proposed an original test system for performance assessment and quality control of clinical and experimental equipment. Test objects for assessing volume and slice selection signal localization were designed, constructed and optimized in a series of international trials. A multicentre evaluation of different data analysis procedures was also carried out on a set of complex valued in vivo nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) time domain test signals, in order to make quantitative MRS results from different centres more comparable and reproducible.
The developed methodologies enhanced the quantitative significance of data obtained from images and spectra of human and animal tissues. Moreover, the development of a novel software for transporting MRI data from different commercial systems to a central database, together with the multicentre data collections demonstrated the possibility of obtaining reproducible and comparable results from relaxation time measurements carried out in different centres with a variety of clinical and experimental MRI equipment. The quantification in MRI and MRS provide the basis for further technological developments of these biomedical technologies in clincial diagnosis and therapy monitoring. A number of physiological measuremen t techniques are now emerging, which utilize functional MRI and MRS to measure perfusion, oxygenation, blood volume permeability, diffusion and new mechanisms of contrast (that provide information on molecular exchange between different cellular compartments) and metabolism in normal and pathological tissues.
General procedures adopted by the project for developing standardized methodologies in MRI and MRS have consisted of: a) holding topical workshops and working group meetings to propose and finalize procedures, test objects and reference materials; (thirteen meetings); b) evaluation of protocols in multicentre trials; (three in MRI; three in MRS); c) interlaboratory exchanges of personnel (twenty-eighth short term fellowships); d) publication of results in Eurospin Quarterly, in Journals and books.