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Variable slice thickness (VAST) EPI for the reduction of susceptibility artifacts in whole-brain GE-EPI at 7 Tesla

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: A new technique for 2D gradient-recalled echo echo-planar imaging (GE-EPI) termed 'variable slice thickness' (VAST) is proposed, which reduces signal losses caused by through-slice susceptibility artifacts, while keeping the volume repetition time (TR) manageable. The slice thickness is varied across the brain, with thinner slices being used in the inferior brain regions where signal voids are most severe.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Various axial slice thickness schemes with identical whole-brain coverage were compared to regular EPI, which may either suffer from unfeasibly long TR if appropriately thin slices are used throughout, or signal loss if no counter-measures are taken. Evaluation is based on time-course signal-to-noise (tSNR) maps from resting state data and a statistical group-level region of interest (ROI) analysis on breath-hold fMRI measurements.

RESULTS: The inferior brain region signal voids with static B0 inhomogeneities could be markedly reduced with VAST GE-EPI in contrast to regular GE-EPI. ROI-averaged event-related signal changes showed 48% increase in VAST compared to GE-EPI with regular "thick" slices. tSNR measurements proved the comparable signal robustness of VAST in comparison to regular GE-EPI with thin slices.

CONCLUSION: A novel acquisition strategy for functional 2D GE-EPI at ultrahigh magnetic field is presented to reduce susceptibility-induced signal voids and keep TR sufficiently short for whole-brain coverage.

    Research areas

  • Journal Article, INDUCED SIGNAL LOSS, Z-SHIM METHOD, BOLD SENSITIVITY LOSSES, TO-NOISE RATIO, Echo-planar imaging, Repetition time, FUNCTIONAL MRI, GRADIENT COMPENSATION, PARALLEL TRANSMISSION, Susceptibility artifact, fMRI, FIELD INHOMOGENEITIES, Slice thickness, PHYSIOLOGICAL NOISE, 7 Tesla ultrahigh field MRI, RF PULSES
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591–607
Number of pages17
JournalMagnetic Resonance Materials in Physics Biology and Medicine
Volume30
Issue number6
Early online date10 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017