Accurate determination of brain metabolite concentrations using ERETIC as external reference

Niklaus Zoelch, Andreas Hock, Susanne Heinzer-Schweizer, Nikolai Avdievitch, Anke Henning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) can provide in vivo metabolite concentrations in standard concentration units if a reliable reference signal is available. For 1H MRS in the human brain, typically the signal from the tissue water is used as the (internal) reference signal. However, a concentration determination based on the tissue water signal most often requires a reliable estimate of the water concentration present in the investigated tissue. Especially in clinically interesting cases, this estimation might be difficult. To avoid assumptions about the water in the investigated tissue, the Electric REference To access In vivo Concentrations (ERETIC) method has been proposed. In this approach, the metabolite signal is compared with a reference signal acquired in a phantom and potential coil-loading differences are corrected using a synthetic reference signal. The aim of this study, conducted with a transceiver quadrature head coil, was to increase the accuracy of the ERETIC method by correcting the influence of spatial B1 inhomogeneities and to simplify the quantification with ERETIC by incorporating an automatic phase correction for the ERETIC signal. Transmit field (B1+) differences are minimized with a volume-selective power optimization, whereas reception sensitivity changes are corrected using contrast-minimized images of the brain and by adapting the voxel location in the phantom measurement closely to the position measured in vivo. By applying the proposed B1 correction scheme, the mean metabolite concentrations determined with ERETIC in 21 healthy subjects at three different positions agree with concentrations derived with the tissue water signal as reference. In addition, brain water concentrations determined with ERETIC were in agreement with estimations derived using tissue segmentation and literature values for relative water densities. Based on the results, the ERETIC method presented here is a valid tool to derive in vivo metabolite concentration, with potential advantages compared with internal water referencing in diseased tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3731
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • human study
  • metabolite concentrations
  • normal brain
  • proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • spectroscopic quantitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy


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