Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Lung Tissue: Influence of Body Positioning, Breathing and Oxygen Inhalation on Signal Decay Using Multi-Echo Gradient-Echo Sequences

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To assess susceptibility related signal decay in lung tissue and to measure the influence of body positioning, together with inspiration and expiration, as well as oxygen inhalation. T2* maps and line shape maps of lung parenchyma were derived from datasets acquired at 0.2 T and compared with findings at 1.5 T. The line shape maps allow for a visualization of the intravoxel frequency distribution of lung parenchyma.

Materials and Methods:

A multiecho spoiled gradient-echo sequence with 16 echoes was implemented both on a 0.2 T [repetition time (TR) = 100 milliseconds, echo time (TE)1 = 2.15 milliseconds, ΔTE = 2.94 milliseconds, flip angle 30 degrees] and on a 1.5 T magnetic resonance scanner (TR = 100 milliseconds, TE1 = 1.25 milliseconds, ΔTE = 1.65 milliseconds, flip angle 30 degrees). Sagittal datasets were recorded in 8 healthy volunteers at 0.2 T in supine position under maximal expiration and inspiration and during oxygen breathing. Additional measurements were performed after 20 minutes inside the scanner in supine position and after prone repositioning. In 2 volunteers, further datasets were acquired at 1.5 T. Color-encoded T2* maps and full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM) maps of the frequency distribution were computed on a pixel-by-pixel basis. T2* maps were generated by mono-exponential fitting and, additionally, with an extended nonexponential fitting approach. The FWHM maps were calculated with a model-free approach using a discrete Fast Fourier Transformation.


A notably slower T2* decay was found at 0.2 T (T2*: 5.9–11.8 milliseconds) when compared with 1.5 T (T2*: 1.0–1.4 milliseconds), allowing for the measurement of up to 6 to 8 gradient echoes above the noise level. The T2* maps and the FWHM maps computed from the datasets acquired at 0.2 T allowed regional comparison of the derived parameters. If volunteers were positioned in supine position, expiration resulted in a T2* of 10.9 ± 1.0 milliseconds and a FWHM of 47.1 ± 4.0 Hz in the dorsal lung. Significant changes (P < 0.05) were found, eg, in the ventral lung in expiration (T2*: 7.5 ± 0.8, FWHM: 76.7 ± 11.2) versus dorsal lung in expiration, in the dorsal lung in inspiration (T2*: 8.4 ± 1.0, FWHM: 67.8 ± 12.5) versus dorsal lung in expiration, in the dorsal lung during oxygen breathing (T2*: 8.7 ± 1.1, FWHM: 52.2 ± 5.2) versus dorsal lung while breathing room air, and in the dorsal lung in prone position (T2*: 8.5 ± 0.6, FWHM: 67.0 ± 9.2) versus dorsal lung in supine position.


The proposed method allows for the computation of color-encoded T2* maps and FWHM maps of lung parenchyma in good image quality using datasets acquired at 0.2 T. The technique is robust and sensitive to physiological changes of lung magnetic resonance properties, eg, due to the type of body positioning or oxygen breathing.

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