Navigator-Free Submillimeter Diffusion Imaging using Multishot-encoded Simultaneous Multi-slice (MUSIUM)

1 Dec 2020  ·  Wei-Tang Chang, Khoi Minh Huynh, Pew-Thian Yap, Weili Lin ·

The ability to achieve submillimter isotropic resolution diffusion MR imaging (dMRI) is critically important to study fine-scale brain structures, particularly in the cortex. One of the major challenges in performing submillimeter dMRI is the inherently low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). While approaches capable of mitigating the low SNR in high resolution dMRI have been proposed, namely simultaneous multi-slab (SMSlab) and generalized slice dithered enhanced resolution with simultaneous multislice (gSlider-SMS), limitations are associated with these approaches. The SMSlab sequences suffer from the slab boundary artifacts and require additional navigators for phase estimation. On the other hand, gSlider sequences require relatively high RF power and peak amplitude, which increase the SAR and complicate the RF excitation. In this work, we developed a navigator-free multishot-encoded simultaneous multi-slice (MUSIUM) imaging approach on a 3T MR scanner, achieving enhanced SNR, low RF power and peak amplitude, and being free from slab boundary artifacts. The dMRI with ultrahigh resolution (0.86 mm isotropic resolution), whole brain coverage and ~12.5 minute acquisition time were achieved, revealing detailed structures at cortical and white matter areas. The simulated and in vivo results also demonstrated that the MUSIUM imaging was minimally affected by the motion. Taken together, the MUSIUM imaging is a promising approach to achieve submillimeter diffusion imaging on 3T MR scanners within clinically feasible scan time.

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Medical Physics Image and Video Processing