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Improved vessel-tissue contrast and image quality in 3D radial sampling-based 4D-MRI.

Abstract

Purpose

In radiation treatment planning for thoracic and abdominal tumors, 4D-MRI has shown promise in respiratory motion characterization with improved soft-tissue contrast compared to clinical standard, 4D computed tomography (4D-CT). This study aimed to further improve vessel-tissue contrast and overall image quality in 3D radial sampling-based 4D-MRI using a slab-selective (SS) excitation approach.

Methods

The technique was implemented in a 3D radial sampling with self-gating-based k-space sorting sequence. The SS excitation approach was compared to a non-selective (NS) approach in six cancer patients and two healthy volunteers at 3T. Improvements in vessel-tissue contrast ratio (CR) and vessel signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) were analyzed in five of the eight subjects. Image quality was visually assessed in all subjects on a 4-point scale (0: poor; 3: excellent). Tumor (patients) and pancreas (healthy) motion trajectories were compared between the two imaging approaches.

Results

Compared with NS-4D-MRI, SS-4D-MRI significantly improved the overall vessel-tissue CR (2.60 ± 3.97 vs. 1.03 ± 1.44, P < 0.05), SNR (63.33 ± 38.45 vs. 35.74 ± 28.59, P < 0.05), and image quality score (2.6 ± 0.5 vs. 1.4 ± 0.5, P = 0.02). Motion trajectories from the two approaches exhibited strong correlation in the superior-inferior (0.96 ± 0.06), but weaker in the anterior-posterior (0.78 ± 0.24) and medial-lateral directions (0.46 ± 0.44).

Conclusions

The proposed 4D-MRI with slab-selectively excited 3D radial sampling allows for improved blood SNR, vessel-tissue CR, and image quality.

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