Balanced SSFP-like steady-state imaging using small-tip fast recovery with a spectral prewinding pulse

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Abstract

Purpose:

Small-tip fast recovery (STFR) imaging has been proposed recently as a potential alternative to balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP). STFR relies on a tailored “tip-up” radio-frequency pulse to achieve comparable signal level as bSSFP, but with reduced banding artifacts and transient oscillations, and is compatible with magnetization-preparation pulses. Previous STFR implementations used two-dimensional or three-dimensional pulses spatially tailored to the accumulated phase calculated from a B0 field map, making the steady-state STFR signal contain some T2* weighting. Here, we propose to replace the spatially tailored pulse with a recently introduced spectrally selective “pre-winding” pulse that is precomputed to a target frequency range. The proposed “spectral-STFR” sequence produces T2/T1-weighted images similar to bSSFP, but with reduced banding and potentially other benefits.

Theory and Methods:

We investigated the steady-state signal properties of spectral-STFR using simulations, and phantom and human volunteer experiments.

Results:

Our simulation and experimental results showed that the spectral-STFR sequence has similar signal level and tissue contrast as bSSFP, but has a wider passband and more consistent banding profiles across different tissues (e.g., less hyperintense signal at band edges for low flip angles). Care is needed in designing the spectral radio-frequency pulse to ensure that the small tip angle approximation holds during radio-frequency transmission.

Conclusion:

Spectral-STFR has similar tissue contrast as bSSFP but a wider passband and more consistent cerebrospinal fluid/brain tissue contrast across the passband. The spectral-STFR sequence is a potential alternative to bSSFP in some applications. Compared to a spatially tailored STFR sequence, spectral-STFR can be precomputed, is easier to implement in practice, and potentially has more uniform image contrast and minimal T2* weighting. Magn Reson Med 75:839–844, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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