Time-Resolved 3D Pulmonary Perfusion MRI: Comparison of Different k-Space Acquisition Strategies at 1.5 and 3 T

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Time-resolved pulmonary perfusion MRI requires both high temporal and spatial resolution, which can be achieved by using several nonconventional k-space acquisition techniques. The aim of this study is to compare the image quality of time-resolved 3D pulmonary perfusion MRI with different k-space acquisition techniques in healthy volunteers at 1.5 and 3 T.


Ten healthy volunteers underwent contrast-enhanced time-resolved 3D pulmonary MRI on 1.5 and 3 T using the following k-space acquisition techniques: (a) generalized autocalibrating partial parallel acquisition (GRAPPA) with an internal acquisition of reference lines (IRS), (b) GRAPPA with a single “external” acquisition of reference lines (ERS) before the measurement, and (c) a combination of GRAPPA with an internal acquisition of reference lines and view sharing (VS). The spatial resolution was kept constant at both field strengths to exclusively evaluate the influences of the temporal resolution achieved with the different k-space sampling techniques on image quality. The temporal resolutions were 2.11 seconds IRS, 1.31 seconds ERS, and 1.07 VS at 1.5 T and 2.04 seconds IRS, 1.30 seconds ERS, and 1.19 seconds VS at 3 T.


Image quality was rated by 2 independent radiologists with regard to signal intensity, perfusion homogeneity, artifacts (eg, wrap around, noise), and visualization of pulmonary vessels using a 3 point scale (1 = nondiagnostic, 2 = moderate, 3 = good). Furthermore, the signal-to-noise ratio in the lungs was assessed.


At 1.5 T the lowest image quality (sum score: 154) was observed for the ERS technique and the highest quality for the VS technique (sum score: 201). In contrast, at 3 T images acquired with VS were hampered by strong artifacts and image quality was rated significantly inferior (sum score: 137) compared with IRS (sum score: 180) and ERS (sum score: 174). Comparing 1.5 and 3 T, in particular the overall rating of the IRS technique (sum score: 180) was very similar at both field strengths. At 1.5 T the peak signal-to-noise ratio of the ERS was significantly lower in comparison to the IRS and the VS technique (14.6 vs. 26.7 and 39.6 respectively, P < 0.004).


Using the IRS sampling algorithm comparable image quality and SNR can be achieved at 1.5 and 3 T. At 1.5 T VS offers the best possible solution for the conflicting requirements between a further increased temporal resolution and image quality. In consequence the gain of increased scanning efficiency from advanced k[r]-space sampling acquisition techniques can be exploited for a further improvement of image quality of pulmonary perfusion MRI.

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