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BACKGROUND:Myocardial T1-mapping is increasingly used in multicentre studies and trials. Inconsistent image analysis introduces variability, hinders differentiation of diseases, and results in larger sample sizes. We present a systematic approach to standardize T1-map analysis by human operators to improve accuracy and consistency. METHODS:We developed a multi-step training program for T1-map post-processing. The training dataset contained 42 left ventricular (LV) short-axis T1-maps (normal and diseases; 1.5 and 3 Tesla). Contours drawn by two experienced human operators served as reference for myocardial T1 and wall thickness (WT). Trainees (n = 26) underwent training and were evaluated by: (a) qualitative review of contours; (b) quantitative comparison with reference T1 and WT. RESULTS:The mean absolute difference between reference operators was 8.4 ± 6.3 ms (T1) and 1.2 ± 0.7 pixels (WT). Trainees' mean discrepancy from reference in T1 improved significantly post-training (from 8.1 ± 2.4 to 6.7 ± 1.4 ms; p < 0.001), with a 43% reduction in standard deviation (SD) (p = 0.035). WT also improved significantly post-training (from 0.9 ± 0.4 to 0.7 ± 0.2 pixels, p = 0.036), with 47% reduction in SD (p = 0.04). These experimentally-derived thresholds served to guide the training process: T1 (±8 ms) and WT (±1 pixel) from reference. CONCLUSION:A standardized approach to CMR T1-map image post-processing leads to significant improvements in the accuracy and consistency of LV myocardial T1 values and wall thickness. Improving consistency between operators can translate into 33-72% reduction in clinical trial sample-sizes. This work may: (a) serve as a basis for re-certification for core-lab operators; (b) translate to sample-size reductions for clinical studies; (c) produce better-quality training datasets for machine learning.

Original publication




Journal article


International journal of cardiology

Publication Date



Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research (OCMR), Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, United Kingdom; Biomedical Engineering Department, King's College London, 5th Floor Becket House, London, United Kingdom. Electronic address: