Cardiac 4D phase-contrast CMR at 9.4 T using self-gated ultra-short echo time (UTE) imaging


Krämer, M., Motaal, A.G., Herrmann, K.H., Löffler, B., Reichenbach, J.R., Strijkers, G.J. & Hoerr, V. (2017). Cardiac 4D phase-contrast CMR at 9.4 T using self-gated ultra-short echo time (UTE) imaging. Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, 19(1):39 In Scopus Cited 1 times.

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Background: Time resolved 4D phase contrast (PC) cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) in mice is challenging due to long scan times, small animal ECG-gating and the rapid blood flow and cardiac motion of small rodents. To overcome several of these technical challenges we implemented a retrospectively self-gated 4D PC radial ultra-short echo-time (UTE) acquisition scheme and assessed its performance in healthy mice by comparing the results with those obtained with an ECG-triggered 4D PC fast low angle shot (FLASH) sequence. Methods: Cardiac 4D PC CMR images were acquired at 9.4 T in healthy mice using the proposed self-gated radial center-out UTE acquisition scheme (TE/TR of 0.5 ms/3.1 ms) and a standard Cartesian 4D PC imaging sequence (TE/TR of 2.1 ms/5.0 ms) with a four-point Hadamard flow encoding scheme. To validate the proposed UTE flow imaging technique, experiments on a flow phantom with variable pump rates were performed. Results: The anatomical images and flow velocity maps of the proposed 4D PC UTE technique showed reduced artifacts and an improved SNR (left ventricular cavity (LV): 8.9 ± 2.5, myocardium (MC): 15.7 ± 1.9) compared to those obtained using a typical Cartesian FLASH sequence (LV: 5.6 ± 1.2, MC: 10.1 ± 1.4) that was used as a reference. With both sequences comparable flow velocities were obtained in the flow phantom as well as in the ascending aorta (UTE: 132.8 ± 18.3 cm/s, FLASH: 134.7 ± 13.4 cm/s) and pulmonary artery (UTE: 78.5 ± 15.4 cm/s, FLASH: 86.6 ± 6.2 cm/s) of the animals. Self-gated navigator signals derived from information of the oversampled k-space center were successfully extracted for all animals with a higher gating efficiency of time spent on acquiring gated data versus total measurement time (UTE: 61.8 ± 11.5%, FLASH: 48.5 ± 4.9%). Conclusions: The proposed self-gated 4D PC UTE sequence enables robust and accurate flow velocity mapping of the mouse heart in vivo at high magnetic fields. At the same time SNR, gating efficiency, flow artifacts and image quality all improved compared to the images obtained using the well-established, ECG-triggered, 4D PC FLASH sequence.