Liver imaging at 3.0 T: Diffusion-induced black-blood echo-planar imaging with large anatomic volumetric coverage as an alternative for specific absorption rate-intensive echo-train spin-echo sequences: Feasibility study
Institutional Review Board approval and signed informed consent were obtained by all participants for an ongoing sequence optimization project at 3.0 T. The purpose of this study was to evaluate breath-hold diffusion-induced blackblood echo-planar imaging (BBEPI) as a potential alternative for specific absorption rate (SAR)-intensive spin-echo sequences, in particular, the fast spin-echo (FSE) sequences, at 3.0 T. Fourteen healthy volunteers (seven men, seven women; mean age ± standard deviation, 32.7 years ± 6.8) were imaged for this purpose. Liver coverage (20 cm, z-axis) was always performed in one 25-second breath hold. Imaging parameters were varied interactively with regard to echo time, diffusion b value, and voxel size. Images were evaluated and compared with fat-suppressed T2-weighted FSE images for image quality, liver delineation, geometric distortions, fat suppression, suppression of the blood signal, contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). An optimized short- (25 msec) and long-echo (80 msec) BBEPI provided full anatomic, single breath-hold liver coverage (100 and 50 sections, respectively), with resulting voxel sizes of 3.3 x 2.7 x 2.0 mm and 3.3 x 2.7 x 4.0 mm, respectively. Repetition time was 6300 msec, matrix size was 160 x 192, and an acceleration factor of 2.00 was used. b Values of more than 20 sec/mm2showed better suppression of the blood signal but b values of 10 sec/mm2provided improved volume coverage and signal consistency. Compared with fat-suppressed T2-weighted FSE, the optimized BBEPI sequence provided (a) comparable image quality and liver delineation, (b) acceptable geometric distortions, (c) improved suppression of fat and blood signals, and (d) high CNR and SNR. BBEPI is feasible for fast, low-SAR, thin-section morphologic imaging of the entire liver in a single breath hold at 3.0 T.