The purpose of this work was to evaluate a previously proposed approach that aims to improve the point spread function (PSF) of MR spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) to avoid corruption by lipid signal arising from neighboring voxels. Retrospective spatial filtering can be used to alter the PSF; however, this either reduces spatial resolution or requires extending the acquisition in k-space at the cost of increased imaging time. Alternatively, the method evaluated here, PSF-choice, can modify the PSF localization to reduce the contamination from adjacent lipids by conforming the signal response more closely to the desired MRSI voxel grid. This is done without increasing scan time or degrading SNR of important metabolites. PSF-choice achieves improvements in spatial localization through modifications to the radiofrequency excitation pulses. An implementation of this method is reported for MRSI of the prostate, where it is demonstrated that, in 13 of 16 pilot prostate MRSI scans, intravoxel spectral contamination from lipid was significantly reduced when using PSF-choice. Phantom studies were also performed that demonstrate, compared with MRSI with standard Fourier phase encoding, out-of-voxel signal contamination of spectra was significantly reduced in MRSI with PSF-choice.
A new algorithm is proposed for reconstructing raw RF data into ultrasound images. Previous delay-and-sum beamforming reconstruction algorithms are essentially one-dimensional, because a sum is performed across all receiving elements. In contrast, the present approach is two-dimensional, potentially allowing any time point from any receiving element to contribute to any pixel location. Computer-intensive matrix inversions are performed once, in advance, to create a reconstruction matrix that can be reused indefinitely for a given probe and imaging geometry. Individual images are generated through a single matrix multiplication with the raw RF data, without any need for separate envelope detection or gridding steps. Raw RF data sets were acquired using a commercially available digital ultrasound engine for three imaging geometries: a 64-element array with a rectangular field-of- view (FOV), the same probe with a sector-shaped FOV, and a 128-element array with rectangular FOV. The acquired data were reconstructed using our proposed method and a delay- and-sum beamforming algorithm for comparison purposes. Point spread function (PSF) measurements from metal wires in a water bath showed that the proposed method was able to reduce the size of the PSF and its spatial integral by about 20 to 38%. Images from a commercially available quality-assurance phantom had greater spatial resolution and contrast when reconstructed with the proposed approach.
The capability to image temperature is a very attractive feature of MRI and has been actively exploited for guiding minimally-invasive thermal therapies. Among many MR-based temperature-sensitive approaches, proton resonance frequency (PRF) thermometry provides the advantage of excellent linearity of signal with temperature over a large temperature range. Furthermore, the PRF shift has been shown to be fairly independent of tissue type and thermal history. For these reasons, PRF method has evolved into the most widely used MR-based thermometry method. In the present paper, the basic principles of PRF-based temperature mapping will be reviewed, along with associated pulse sequence designs. Technical advancements aimed at increasing the imaging speed and/or temperature accuracy of PRF-based thermometry sequences, such as image acceleration, fat suppression, reduced field-of-view imaging, as well as motion tracking and correction, will be discussed. The development of accurate MR thermometry methods applicable to moving organs with non-negligible fat content represents a very challenging goal, but recent developments suggest that this goal may be achieved. If so, MR-guided thermal therapies may be expected to play an increasingly-important therapeutic and palliative role, as a minimally-invasive alternative to surgery.
MR thermometry can be a very challenging application, as good resolution may be needed along spatial, temporal, and temperature axes. Given that the heated foci produced during thermal therapies are typically much smaller than the anatomy being imaged, much of the imaged field-of-view is not actually being heated and may not require temperature monitoring. In this work, many-fold improvements were obtained in terms of temporal resolution and/or 3D spatial coverage by sacrificing some of the in-plane spatial coverage. To do so, three fast-imaging approaches were jointly implemented with a spoiled gradient echo sequence: (1) two-dimensional spatially selective RF excitation, (2) unaliasing by Fourier encoding the overlaps using the temporal dimension (UNFOLD), and (3) parallel imaging. The sequence was tested during experiments with focused ultrasound heating in ex vivo tissue and a tissue-mimicking phantom. Temperature maps were estimated from phase-difference images based on the water proton resonance frequency shift. Results were compared to those obtained from a spoiled gradient echo sequence sequence, using a t-test. Temporal resolution was increased by 24-fold, with temperature uncertainty less than 1°C, while maintaining accurate temperature measurements (mean difference between measurements, as observed in gel = 0.1°C ± 0.6; R = 0.98; P \textgreater 0.05).
The purpose of this study is to develop a fast and accurate temperature mapping method capable of both fat suppression and reduced field-of-view (rFOV) imaging, using a two-dimensional spatially-selective RF (2DRF) pulse. Temperature measurement errors caused by fat signals were assessed, through simulations. An 11x1140mus echo-planar 2DRF pulse was developed and incorporated into a gradient-echo sequence. Temperature measurements were obtained during focused ultrasound (FUS) heating of a fat-water phantom. Experiments both with and without the use of a 2DRF pulse were performed at 3T, and the accuracy of the resulting temperature measurements were compared over a range of TE values. Significant inconsistencies in terms of measured temperature values were observed when using a regular slice-selective RF excitation pulse. In contrast, the proposed 2DRF excitation pulse suppressed fat signals by more than 90%, allowing good temperature consistency regardless of TE settings. Temporal resolution was also improved, from 12 frames per minute (fpm) with the regular pulse to 28 frames per minute with the rFOV excitation. This technique appears promising toward the MR monitoring of temperature in moving adipose organs, during thermal therapies.
Fat suppression is important but challenging in balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) acquisitions, for a number of clinical applications. In the present work, the practicality of performing fat-water selective excitations using spatial-spectral (SPSP) RF pulses in bSSFP sequence is examined. With careful pulse design, the overall duration of these SPSP pulses was kept short to minimize detrimental effects on TR, scan time and banding artifact content. Fat-water selective excitation using SPSP pulses was demonstrated in both phantom and human bSSFP imaging at 3T, and compared to results obtained using a two-point Dixon method. The sequence with SPSP pulses performed better than the two-point Dixon method, in terms of scan time and suppression performance. Overall, it is concluded here that SPSP RF pulses do represent a viable option for fat-suppressed bSSFP imaging.
MR-based thermometry is a valuable adjunct to thermal ablation therapies as it helps to determine when lethal doses are reached at the target and whether surrounding tissues are safe from damage. When the targeted lesion is mobile, MR data can further be used for motion-tracking purposes. The present work introduces pulse sequence modifications that enable significant improvements in terms of both temperature-to-noise-ratio properties and target-tracking abilities. Instead of sampling a single magnetization pathway as in typical MR thermometry sequences, the pulse-sequence design introduced here involves sampling at least one additional pathway. Image reconstruction changes associated with the proposed sampling scheme are also described. The method was implemented on two commonly used MR thermometry sequences: the gradient-echo and the interleaved echo-planar imaging sequences. Data from the extra pathway enabled temperature-to-noise-ratio improvements by up to 35%, without increasing scan time. Potentially of greater significance is that the sampled pathways featured very different contrast for blood vessels, facilitating their detection and use as internal landmarks for tracking purposes. Through improved temperature-to-noise-ratio and lesion-tracking abilities, the proposed pulse-sequence design may facilitate the use of MR-monitored thermal ablations as an effective treatment option even in mobile organs such as the liver and kidneys. Magn Reson Med, 2011. (c) 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Parallel imaging methods are routinely used to accelerate the image acquisition process in cardiac cine imaging. The addition of a temporal acceleration method, whereby k-space is sampled differently for different time frames, has been shown in prior work to improve image quality as compared to parallel imaging by itself. However, such temporal acceleration strategies prove difficult to combine with retrospectively gated cine imaging. The only currently published method to feature such combination, by Hansen et al. [Magn Reson Med 55 (2006) 85-91] tends to be associated with prohibitively long reconstruction times. The goal of the present work was to develop a retrospectively gated cardiac cine method that features both parallel imaging and temporal acceleration, capable of achieving significant acceleration factors on commonly available hardware and associated with reconstruction times short enough for practical use in a clinical context. Seven cardiac patients and a healthy volunteer were recruited and imaged, with acceleration factors of 3.5 or 4.5, using an eight-channel product cardiac array on a 1.5-T system. The prescribed FOV value proved slightly too small in three patients, and one of the patients had a bigemini condition. Despite these additional challenges, good-quality results were obtained for all slices and all patients, with a reconstruction time of 0.98+/-0.07 s per frame, or about 20 s for a 20-frame slice, using a single processor on a single PC. As compared to using parallel imaging by itself, the addition of a temporal acceleration strategy provided much resistance to artifacts.
As the number and complexity of partially sampled dynamic imaging methods continue to increase, reliable strategies to evaluate performance may prove most useful. In the present work, an analytical framework to evaluate given reconstruction methods is presented. A perturbation algorithm allows the proposed evaluation scheme to perform robustly without requiring knowledge about the inner workings of the method being evaluated. A main output of the evaluation process consists of a two-dimensional modulation transfer function, an easy-to-interpret visual rendering of a method's ability to capture all combinations of spatial and temporal frequencies. Approaches to evaluate noise properties and artifact content at all spatial and temporal frequencies are also proposed. One fully sampled phantom and three fully sampled cardiac cine datasets were subsampled (R = 4 and 8) and reconstructed with the different methods tested here. A hybrid method, which combines the main advantageous features observed in our assessments, was proposed and tested in a cardiac cine application, with acceleration factors of 3.5 and 6.3 (skip factors of 4 and 8, respectively). This approach combines features from methods such as k-t sensitivity encoding, unaliasing by Fourier encoding the overlaps in the temporal dimension-sensitivity encoding, generalized autocalibrating partially parallel acquisition, sensitivity profiles from an array of coils for encoding and reconstruction in parallel, self, hybrid referencing with unaliasing by Fourier encoding the overlaps in the temporal dimension and generalized autocalibrating partially parallel acquisition, and generalized autocalibrating partially parallel acquisition-enhanced sensitivity maps for sensitivity encoding reconstructions.
PURPOSE: To separate fat and water signals in dynamic imaging. Because important features may be embedded in fat, and because fat may take part in disease processes, separating fat and water signals may be of great importance in a number of clinical applications. This work aims to achieve such separation at nearly no loss in temporal resolution compared to usual, nonseparated acquisitions. In contrast, the well-known 3-point Dixon method may cause as much as a 3-fold reduction in temporal resolution. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The proposed approach involves modulating the echo time TE from frame to frame, to force fat signals to behave in a conspicuous manner through time, so they can be readily identified and separated from water signals. The strategy is inspired from the "unaliasing by Fourier encoding the overlaps in the temporal direction" (UNFOLD) method, although UNFOLD involves changes in the sampling function rather than TE, and aims at suppressing aliased material rather than fat. RESULTS: The method was implemented at 1.5 T and 3 T, on cardiac cine and multiframe steady-state free precession sequences. In addition to phantom results, in vivo results from volunteers are presented. CONCLUSION: Good separation of fat and water signals was achieved in all cases.
Conventional spatial-spectral radiofrequency pulses excite the water or the fat spins in a whole slice or slab. While such pulses prove useful in a number of applications, their applicability is severely limited in sequences with short pulse repetition time due to the relatively long duration of the pulses. In the present work, we demonstrate that, by manipulating the parameters of a two-dimensional spartially-selective (2DRF) pulse designed to excite a two-dimensional spatial profile, the chemical-shift sensitivity of the pulse can be exploited to obtain potentially useful spatially varying fat-water excitation patterns.
One of the most basic trade-offs in ultrasound imaging involves frame rate, depth, and number of lines. Achieving good spatial resolution and coverage requires a large number of lines, leading to decreases in frame rate. An even more serious imaging challenge occurs with imaging modes involving spatial compounding and 3-D/4-D imaging, which are severely limited by the slow speed of sound in tissue. The present work can overcome these traditional limitations, making ultrasound imaging many-fold faster. By emitting several beams at once, and by separating the resulting overlapped signals through spatial and temporal processing, spatial resolution and/or coverage can be increased by many-fold while leaving frame rates unaffected. The proposed approach can also be extended to imaging strategies that do not involve transmit beamforming, such as synthetic aperture imaging. Simulated and experimental results are presented where imaging speed is improved by up to 32-fold, with little impact on image quality. Object complexity has little impact on the method's performance, and data from biological systems can readily be handled. The present work may open the door to novel multiplexed and/or multidimensional protocols considered impractical today.