Triple-quantum-filtered sodium imaging of the human brain at 4.7 T

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The limited signal-to-noise ratio of triple-quantum-filtered MRI of sodium is a major hurdle for its application clinically. Although it has been shown that short 90° radiofrequency pulses in combination with sufficiently long repetition time for fullT1 recovery (labelled “standard” parameters) produce the maximum signal through the triple-quantum-filter, and in this work, simulation and images of agar phantoms and human brain demonstrate that the use of longer radiofrequency pulses and reduced repetition time (optimized parameters to accommodate more averages for a constant specific absorption rate, reducing noise variance for a given scan length) results in signal-to-noise ratio improvement (22 ± 5% in brain tissue of five healthy volunteers—images created in 11 min with nominal resolution of 8.4 mm isotropic). However, residual intensity was observed in the ventricular space on triple-quantum-filtered images acquired with either optimized or standard parameters, contrary to the expectation of complete single-quantum signal suppression. Further simulation and experimentation suggest that this is likely due to the combination of triple-quantum-passed signal from surrounding brain tissue being spatially smeared into the ventricular space and single-quantum-signal breakthrough from sodium nuclei in the fluid space. It is shown that the latter can be eliminated with judicious first flip angle selection.

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