Geometric distortions along the phase encode direction caused by off-resonant spins are still a major issue in EPI based functional and diffusion imaging. If the off-resonance map is known it is possible to correct for distortions. Most correction methods operate as a post-processing step on the reconstructed magnitude images.Theory and methods
Here, we present an algebraic reconstruction method (hybrid-space SENSE) that incorporates a physics based model of off-resonances, phase inconsistencies between k-space segments, and T2*-decay during the acquisition. The method can be used to perform a joint reconstruction of interleaved acquisitions with normal (blip-up) and inverted (blip-down) phase encode direction which results in reduced g-factor penalty.Results
A joint blip-up/down simultaneous multi slice (SMS) reconstruction for SMS-factor 4 in combination with twofold in-plane acceleration leads to a factor of two decrease in maximum g-factor penalty while providing off-resonance and eddy-current corrected images.Conclusion
We provide an algebraic framework for reconstructing diffusion weighted EPI data that in addition to the general applicability of hybrid-space SENSE to 2D-EPI, SMS-EPI and 3D-EPI with arbitrary k-space coverage along z, allows for a modeling of arbitrary spatio-temporal effects during the acquisition period like off-resonances, phase inconsistencies and T2*-decay. The most immediate benefit is a reduction in g-factor penalty if an interleaved blip-up/down acquisition strategy is chosen which facilitates eddy current estimation and ensures no loss in k-space encoding in regions with strong off-resonance gradients.