Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (CEST) Imaging With Fast Variably-accelerated Sensitivity Encoding (vSENSE)

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Purpose:The widespread clinical use of chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) imaging is hampered by relatively long scan times due to its requirement that multiple saturation-offset image frames be acquired. Here, a novel variably-accelerated sensitivity encoding (vSENSE) method is proposed that provides faster CEST acquisition than conventional SENSE.Theory and Methods:The vSENSE method fully samples one CEST saturation frame, then undersamples the other frames variably. The fully-sampled frame, in conjunction with newly proposed incoherence absorption and artifact suppression strategies, improves the accuracy of sensitivity maps and permits higher acceleration factors for the other undersampled frames than regular SENSE. vSENSE is validated in a phantom, a normal volunteer and eight brain tumor patients at 3 Tesla.Results:vSENSE with an acceleration factor of four generated a 3–6 times smaller error on average than conventional SENSE (P ≤ 0.02), with acceleration factors of 2–4, as compared with full k-space reconstruction. vSENSE permitted four-fold acceleration for amide proton transfer-weighted images, while regular SENSE could only provide a factor of two. When conventional SENSE is used with vSENSE's variable undersampling pattern, erroneous (∼9%) z-spectra result.Conclusion:The vSENSE method enabled twice the acceleration and generated more accurate images than conventional SENSE.

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