Reduced respiratory motion artefact in constant TR multi-slice MRI of the mouse.
Kinchesh P., Allen PD., Gilchrist S., Kersemans V., Lanfredini S., Thapa A., O'Neill E., Smart SC.
PURPOSE: Multi-slice scanning in the abdomen and thorax of small animals is compromised by the effects of respiration unless imaging and respiration are synchronised. To avoid the signal modulations that result from respiration motion and a variable TR, blocks of fully relaxed slices are typically acquired during inter-breath periods, at the cost of scan efficiency. This paper reports a conceptually simple yet effective prospective gating acquisition mode for multi-slice scanning in free breathing small animals at any fixed TR of choice with reduced sensitivity to respiratory motion. METHODS: Multi-slice scan modes have been implemented in which each slice has its own specific projection or phase encode loop index counter. When a breath is registered RF pulses continue to be applied but data are not acquired, and the corresponding counters remain fixed so that the data are acquired one TR later, providing it coincides with an inter-breath period. The approach is refined to reacquire the slice data that are acquired immediately before each breath is detected. Only the data with reduced motion artefact are used in image reconstruction. The efficacy of the method is demonstrated in the RARE scan mode which is well known to be particularly useful for tumour visualization. RESULTS: Validation in mice with RARE demonstrates improved stability with respect to ungated scanning where signal averaging is often used to reduce artefacts. SNR enhancement maps demonstrate the improved efficiency of the proposed method that is equivalent to at least a 2.5 fold reduction in scan time with respect to ungated signal averaging. A steady-state magnetisation transfer contrast prepared gradient echo implementation is observed to highlight tumour structure. Supplementary simulations demonstrate that only small variations in respiration rate are required to enable efficient sampling with the proposed method. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed prospective gating acquisition scheme enables efficient multi-slice scanning in small animals at the optimum TR with reduced sensitivity to respiratory motion. The method is compatible with a wide range of complementary methods including non-Cartesian scan modes, partially parallel imaging, and compressed sensing. In particular, the proposed scheme reduces the need for continual close monitoring to effect operator intervention in response to respiratory rate changes, which is both difficult to maintain and precludes high throughput.