Spin Echo Versus Stimulated Echo Diffusion Tensor Imaging of the In Vivo Human Heart

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To compare signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) efficiency and diffusion tensor metrics of cardiac diffusion tensor mapping using acceleration-compensated spin-echo (SE) and stimulated echo acquisition mode (STEAM) imaging.


Diffusion weighted SE and STEAM sequences were implemented on a clinical 1.5 Tesla MR system. The SNR efficiency of SE and STEAM was measured (b = 50–450 s/mm2) in isotropic agar, anisotropic diffusion phantoms and the in vivo human heart. Diffusion tensor analysis was performed on mean diffusivity, fractional anisotropy, helix and transverse angles.


In the isotropic phantom, the ratio of SNR efficiency for SE versus STEAM, SNRt(SE/STEAM), was 2.84 ± 0.08 for all tested b-values. In the anisotropic diffusion phantom the ratio decreased from 2.75 ± 0.05 to 2.20 ± 0.13 with increasing b-value, similar to the in vivo decrease from 2.91 ± 0.43 to 2.30 ± 0.30. Diffusion tensor analysis revealed reduced deviation of helix angles from a linear transmural model and reduced transverse angle standard deviation for SE compared with STEAM. Mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy were measured to be statistically different (P < 0.001) between SE and STEAM.


Cardiac DTI using motion-compensated SE yields a 2.3–2.9× increase in SNR efficiency relative to STEAM and improved accuracy of tensor metrics. The SE method hence presents an attractive alternative to STEAM based approaches. Magn Reson Med 76:862–872, 2016. © 2015 The Authors. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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