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1. Import Module



xASL_module_Import(studyPath, imParPath, studyParPath, bRunSubmodules, bCopySingleDicoms, bUseDCMTK, bCheckPermissions, bClone2Source, x)


Import batch T1, T2, FLAIR, DWI, fMRI, M0, ASL data from dicom 2 NIfTI in ASL-BIDS format and structure. Uses dcm2niiX for the conversion, and additionally collects important DICOM header data and puts them in .json sidecars to be used with the ExploreASL pipeline. This function takes any folder input, but the folder input should be specified in the imPar definition. Follow the steps below, for study "MyStudy" located on "//MyDisk":

  1. Make sure you have your DICOM data. Export them from XNAT, download them, or whatsoever Create a root folder with study ID name, and put the DICOMs in any structure in the sourcedata folder within the study ID root folder Examples: imPar.StudyID: MyStudy StudyRoot folder: //MyDisk/MyStudy sourcedata folder containing DICOMs: //MyDisk/MyStudy/sourcedata
  2. Make sure that your DICOM data has any structure that can be retrieved from the folder and/or file names. This function doesn't yet read the DICOM headers For a quick and dirty (but actually slow) function that converts a DICOM folder/file structure into readable format, first run ConvertDicomFolderStructure_CarefulSlow.m. This will read each DICOM individually, and put it in a folder with the name identical to the DICOMs SeriesName/ProtocolName.
  3. Once you have all DICOMs in folderstructure with identifyable names inside //MyDisk/MyStudy/sourcedata, set up the folderstructure in ExploreASL_ImportConfig.m. This setup uses the SPM form of regular expressions, which can be daunting at first, but are very flexible. Easiest is to study other examples, before creating your own. For this example, let's say we have //MyDisk/MyStudy/sourcedata/ScanType/SubjectName because we downloaded our data from XNAT, ordered per ScanType first, and then per subject.

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Let's suppose we don't have sessions (only a single structural and functional scan per subject) The names of our scans comes out of XNAT as '3D\_FLAIR\_eyesClosed', 'T1w\_MPRAGE' and 'PCASL\_10\_min' and the subject names are 'MyStudy001' .. 'MyStudy002' .. etc.

  • imPar.folderHierarchy - contains a a cell array of regular expressions, with each cell specifying a directory layer/level the parts within brackets () tell the script that this is a token (i.e. subject, session, ScanType) Examples: imPar.folderHierarchy = {'^(3D\_FLAIR|T1w|PCASL).*', '^(Sub-\d{3})$'}; here we say that there are two folder layers '', separated by comma , where the names between brackets are used to define what is what. ^ means that the foldername has to start with the following, $ means that the previous has to be the end of the foldername .\* means anything, anylength, \d{3} means three digits
  • imPar.tokenOrdering - defines which tokens are captured by the brackets () in imPar.folderHierarchy: position 1==subject, 2==visit, 3==session, 4==ScanType Examples: imPar.tokenOrdering = [2 3 0 1]; stating that subject is the 2nd token, visit is the 3rd token, session has no token (i.e. no session) and ScanType is the 1st token
  • imPar.tokenVisitAliases - cell array that defines the aliases for the Visits, i.e. it tells the script which scans are which timepoint/visit. Similar as explained below for ScanAliases. First column contains the names that are recognized in sourcedata DICOM folders for visits, second column how it is named in NIfTI structure (should be _1 _2 _3 etc). Examples: imPar.tokenVisitAliases = {'Screening','\_1'; 'Month\_12','\_2'; 'Month\_24','\_3'; 'Month\_36','\_4'; 'Month\_48','\_5'}; Note that if you specify tokenVisitAliases, the folders will receive the indices (e.g. \_1 \_2 \_3), or even \_1 only with a single Visit). If you don't specify them, they will not get this postfix.
  • imPar.tokenScanAliases - cell array that defines the aliases for the ScanTypes, i.e. it tells the script which scans are which ScanType. First column should contain regular expression corresponding with the matching criteria in imPar.folderHierarchy whereas the second column contains the alias. Following valid aliases exist: 'T1' 'FLAIR' 'ASL4D' 'M0' 'ASL4D\_RevPE' 'func' 'func\_NormPE' 'func\_RevPE' 'dwi' 'dwi\_RevPE' 'DSC4D' Examples: imPar.tokenScanAliases = {'^3D\_FLAIR$', 'FLAIR'; '^T1w$', 'T1'; '^PCASL$', 'ASL4D'};
  • imPar.tokenSessionAliases - same as tokenScanAliases but for sessions Examples: imPar.tokenSessionAliases = {}; % as we don't have sessions
  • imPar.bMatchDirectories - true if the last layer is a folder, false if the last layer is a filename (as e.g. with PAR/REC, enhanced DICOMs)

2. Structural Module



[result, x] = xASL_module_Structural(x)


This first ExploreASL module processes the structural images, i.e. high-resolution T1w and FLAIR (if present), on an individual (i.e. subject-to-subject) basis. If a FLAIR is present, this is processed first to obtain a WMH mask to fill the hypointense lesions on the T1w, before segmenting the T1w. For the T1w segmentation this module uses CAT12 by default but if this fails it falls back to SPM after trying to optimize the image contrast. This module has the following steps/submodules/wrappers:

  • 010\_LinearReg\_T1w2MNI - Ensure the alignment of subjects' anterior commissure (AC) with the AC in MNI & apply this to all images
  • 020\_LinearReg\_FLAIR2T1w - Align the FLAIR (if present) with T1w
  • 030\_FLAIR\_BiasfieldCorrection - Perform a biasfield correction (if not performed by LST in following steps)
  • 040\_LST\_Segment\_FLAIR\_WMH - Segment WMH lesions on FLAIR (if present)
  • 050\_LST\_T1w\_LesionFilling\_WMH - Use WMH segmentation to fill lesions on T1w
  • 060\_Segment\_T1w - Tissue segmentation on T1w
  • 070\_CleanUpWMH\_SEGM - Extra WMH cleanup of some over- and under-segmentation
  • 080\_Resample2StandardSpace - Clone all images to standard space
  • 090\_GetVolumetrics - Obtain whole-brain volumes of GM, WM, CSF, WMH
  • 100\_VisualQC - Obtain QC parameters & save QC Figures
  • 110\_DoWADQCDC - QC for WAD-QC DICOM server (OPTIONAL)

3. ASL Module



[result, x] = xASL_module_ASL(x)


This ExploreASL module processes the ASL images, i.e. ASL4D, M0, etc (if present), on an individual (i.e. session-to-session, where session indicates BIDS "run") basis. Both 2D and 3D options are automatially chosen, as well as processing of time-series (if available), such as motion correction and outlier exclusion. This module has the following submodules/wrappers:

  • 010\_TopUpASL - FSL TopUp geometric distortion correction (if M0 images with reversed phase-encoding are present)
  • 020\_RealignASL - If time-series are present, motion correction and outlier exclusion (ENABLE)
  • 030\_RegisterASL - Registration of ASL to T1w anatomical images (if lacking, to MNI images)
  • 040\_ResliceASL - Resample ASL images to standard space
  • 050\_PreparePV - Create partial volume images in ASL space with ASL resolution
  • 060\_ProcessM0 - M0 image processing
  • 070\_CreateAnalysisMask - Create mask using FoV, vascular outliers & susceptibility atlas
  • 080\_Quantification - CBF quantification
  • 090\_VisualQC\_ASL - Generate QC parameters & images
  • 100\_WADQC - QC for WAD-QC DICOM server (OPTIONAL)

4. Population Module



[result, x] = xASL_module_Population(x)


This ExploreASL module processes all available images on the group level. It assumes that all images were adequately processed in the previous modules. It will perform the following group-wise processing and checks:

  • 010\_CreatePopulationTemplates - Create population average images, to compare scanners, cohorts etc without physiological variance
  • 020\_CreateAnalysisMask - Generate a group-level mask by combining individuals masks, for ROI-based analysis & VBA
  • 030\_CreateBiasfield - When there are multiple scanners, create scanner-specific biasfields (uses Site.mat for this)
  • 040\_GetDICOMStatistics - Create TSV file with overview of DICOM parameters
  • 050\_GetVolumeStatistics - Create TSV file with overview of volumetric parameters
  • 060\_GetMotionStatistics - Create TSV file with overview of motion parameters
  • 065\_GetRegistrationStatistics - Create TSV file with overview of the registration statistics
  • 070\_GetROIstatistics - Create TSV file with overview of regional values (e.g. qCBF, mean control, pGM etc)
  • 080\_SortBySpatialCoV - Sort ASL_Check QC images by their spatial CoV in quality bins
  • 090\_DeleteAndZip - Delete temporary files and gzip all NIfTIs