Can a single-shot black-blood T2-weighted spin-echo echo-planar imaging sequence with sensitivity encoding replace the respiratory-triggered turbo spin-echo sequence for the liver? an optimization and feasibility study

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PurposeTo optimize and assess the feasibility of a single-shot black-blood T2-weighted spin-echo echo-planar imaging (SSBB-EPI) sequence for MRI of the liver using sensitivity encoding (SENSE), and compare the results with those obtained with a T2-weighted turbo spin-echo (TSE) sequence.Materials and MethodsSix volunteers and 16 patients were scanned at 1.5T (Philips Intera). In the volunteer study, we optimized the SSBB-EPI sequence by interactively changing the parameters (i.e., the resolution, echo time (TE), diffusion weighting with low b-values, and polarity of the phase-encoding gradient) with regard to distortion, suppression of the blood signal, and sensitivity to motion. The influence of each change was assessed. The optimized SSBB-EPI sequence was applied in patients (N = 16). A number of items, including the overall image quality (on a scale of 1–5), were used for graded evaluation. In addition, the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the liver was calculated. Statistical analysis was carried out with the use of Wilcoxon's signed rank test for comparison of the SSBB-EPI and TSE sequences, with P = 0.05 considered the limit for significance.ResultsThe SSBB-EPI sequence was improved by the following steps: 1) less frequency points than phase-encoding steps, 2) a b-factor of 20, and 3) a reversed polarity of the phase-encoding gradient. In patients, the mean overall image quality score for the optimized SSBB-EPI (3.5 (range: 1–4)) and TSE (3.6 (range: 3–4)), and the SNR of the liver on SSBB-EPI (mean ± SD = 7.6 ± 4.0) and TSE (8.9 ± 4.6) were not significantly different (P > .05).ConclusionOptimized SSBB-EPI with SENSE proved to be feasible in patients, and the overall image quality and SNR of the liver were comparable to those achieved with the standard respiratory-triggered T2-weighted TSE sequence. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2005;21:219–229. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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