Non-invasive quantification of the in vivo myelin content may provide valuable information regarding healthy maturation of the brain, as well as insights into demyelination of several neurological disorders. However, these scans are often long thereby limiting acquisition of large brain parts in clinically feasible acquisition times. Therefore, fast acquisition of whole brain myelin content is important. To avoid errors related to slice-selective pulses, most of the previous whole brain studies on myelin content relied on a 3D acquisition. However, multi-slice (2D) acquisition methods are often faster, and less susceptible to motion artifacts. Therefore, multi-slice approaches can be beneficial in a clinical setting.
We investigated the applicability and reproducibility of whole brain multi-slice GRASE myelin-water imaging with post-acquisition slice-profile correction in healthy volunteers (aged 25-32y). The applicability was evaluated using the agreement between the multi-slice GRASE and the reference method for myelin-water imaging, single-slice multi spin-echo (MSE) acquisition. Additionally, we assessed the effect of varying acquisition acceleration using parallel imaging on the reproducibility values.
First, the multi-slice myelin-water maps showed good agreement with the single-slice reference method, with a bias of at most 1.2% in absolute MWF values. Second, we found an average within-subject coefficient of variation (CoV) of 5.9% and an average intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) of 0.90 for myelin-water estimation using a multi-slice GRASE sequence without parallel acceleration (scan time 14:06 min), while acquisition with a parallel acceleration factor of 2 resulted in a slightly worse average within-subject CoV of 6.4% and an average ICC of 0.83 at half the scan time. Hence, a multi-slice GRASE acquisition with parallel acceleration factor 2 and a scan time of 7:30 min still provides an excellent reproducibility.
- Myelin water fraction
- T2 relaxometry