Free-breathing 3D cardiac function with accelerated magnetization transfer prepared imaging
KeywordsMagnetization Transfer Soft Thresholding Isotropic Spatial Resolution Phantom Scan Cardiac Time
3D cardiac MRI has long held promise for improved heart coverage, higher resolution, and reduced sensitivity to poor breath-hold reproducibility. However, its use has been limited by reduced blood pool to myocardium contrast for spoiled and balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) implementations. T2-preparation techniques  are capable of increasing contrast but are unfortunately limited by lengthy preparation periods and resulting scan inefficiencies. In this work, we develop a paradigm for high contrast 3D cardiac function that relies on the alternative use of magnetization transfer (MT) preparation  combined with accelerated 3D spoiled gradient echo imaging (SPGR).
An off-resonance RF pulse was interleaved with whole-heart, respiratory gated 3D radial SPGR sampling . Simulations and phantom scans were performed to optimize MT saturation (power, off-resonance, and frequency). Phantom scans utilized 4% agar, fat, and doped water. After optimization, initial volunteer images were collected on a clinical 1.5T system (HDx, GE, Waukesha, WI) using: FOV = 64 × 32 × 32 cm3, 2.0 mm isotropic spatial resolution, TR/TE1/TE2 = 5.6/1.32/3.32 ms, α = 4°, free-breathing: scan time = 10 min, 50% acceptance window (bellows), number of projections = 39,000. In-vivo experiments utilized a 1600°, 20 ms Hamming-windowed Sinc pulse applied every 10 TRs. This pulse was applied at 210 Hz off-resonance providing some fat-saturation. In addition, two full echoes (TE1 and TE2) at ± 62.5 kHz were added to further remove fat signal while increasing SNR of water images. Twenty cardiac time frames were reconstructed using iterative soft thresholding of temporal differences with a spatial wavelet transform.
The feasibility of a novel whole-heart functional cardiac acquisition using MT preparation with isotropic spatial resolution in a clinically reasonable scan time is presented. Further studies on optimization of acquisition parameters, including off-resonance frequency, number of projections, and acquired spatial resolution, will improve the applicability of the sequence for clinical situations.
NIH grant 2R01HL072260.
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