Magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF) is a new quantitative imaging paradigm that enables simultaneous acquisition of multiple magnetic resonance tissue parameters (e.g., T, T, and spin density). Recently, MRF has been integrated with simultaneous multislice (SMS) acquisitions to enable volumetric imaging with faster scan time. In this paper, we present a new image reconstruction method based on low-rank and subspace modeling for improved SMS-MRF. Here the low-rank model exploits strong spatiotemporal correlation among contrast-weighted images, while the subspace model captures the temporal evolution of magnetization dynamics. With the proposed model, the image reconstruction problem is formulated as a convex optimization problem, for which we develop an algorithm based on variable splitting and the alternating direction method of multipliers. The performance of the proposed method has been evaluated by numerical experiments, and the results demonstrate that the proposed method leads to improved accuracy over the conventional approach. Practically, the proposed method has a potential to allow for a 3× speedup with minimal reconstruction error, resulting in less than 5 sec imaging time per slice.
T* weighted 3D Gradient Echo (GRE) acquisition is the main sequence used for Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI) and Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM). These applications require a long echo time (TE) to build up phase contrast, requiring a long repetition time (TR), and leading to excessively lengthy scans. The long TE acquisition creates a significant amount of unused time within each TR, which can be utilized for either multi-echo sampling or additional image encoding with the echo-shift technique. The latter leads to significant saving in acquisition time while retaining the desired phase and T* contrast. In this work, we introduce the Simultaneous Time Interleaved MultiSlice (STIMS) echo-shift technique, which mitigates slab boundary artifacts by interleaving comb-shaped slice groups with Simultaneous MultiSlice (SMS) excitation. This enjoys the same SNR benefit of 3D signal averaging as previously introduced multi-slab version, where each slab group is sub-resolved with kz phase encoding. Further, we combine SMS echo-shift with Compressed Sensing (CS) Wave acceleration, which enhances Wave-CAIPI acquisition/reconstruction with random undersampling and sparsity prior. STIMS and CS-Wave combination thus yields up to 45-fold acceleration over conventional full encoding, allowing a 15sec full-brain acquisition with 1.5 mm isotropic resolution at long TE of 39 ms at 3T. In addition to utilizing empty sequence time due to long TE, STIMS is a general concept that could exploit gaps due to e.g. inversion modules in magnetization-prepared rapid gradient-echo (MPRAGE) and fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) sequences.
PURPOSE: We add user-controllable direct currents (DC) to the individual elements of a 32-channel radio-frequency (RF) receive array to provide B0 shimming ability while preserving the array's reception sensitivity and parallel imaging performance.
METHODS: Shim performance using constrained DC current (± 2.5A) is simulated for brain arrays ranging from 8 to 128 elements. A 32-channel 3-tesla brain array is realized using inductive chokes to bridge the tuning capacitors on each RF loop. The RF and B0 shimming performance is assessed in bench and imaging measurements.
RESULTS: The addition of DC currents to the 32-channel RF array is achieved with minimal disruption of the RF performance and/or negative side effects such as conductor heating or mechanical torques. The shimming results agree well with simulations and show performance superior to third-order spherical harmonic (SH) shimming. Imaging tests show the ability to reduce the standard frontal lobe susceptibility-induced fields and improve echo planar imaging geometric distortion. The simulation of 64- and 128-channel brain arrays suggest that even further shimming improvement is possible (equivalent to up to 6th-order SH shim coils).
CONCLUSION: Including user-controlled shim currents on the loops of a conventional highly parallel brain array coil is feasible with modest current levels and produces improved B0 shimming performance over standard second-order SH shimming.
PURPOSE: We incorporate simultaneous multislice (SMS) acquisition into MR fingerprinting (MRF) to accelerate the MRF acquisition.
METHODS: The t-Blipped SMS-MRF method is achieved by adding a Gz blip before each data acquisition window and balancing it with a Gz blip of opposing polarity at the end of each TR. Thus the signal from different simultaneously excited slices are encoded with different phases without disturbing the signal evolution. Furthermore, by varying the Gz blip area and/or polarity as a function of repetition time, the slices' differential phase can also be made to vary as a function of time. For reconstruction of t-Blipped SMS-MRF data, we demonstrate a combined slice-direction SENSE and modified dictionary matching method.
RESULTS: In Monte Carlo simulation, the parameter mapping from multiband factor (MB) = 2 t-Blipped SMS-MRF shows good accuracy and precision when compared with results from reference conventional MRF data with concordance correlation coefficients (CCC) of 0.96 for T1 estimates and 0.90 for T2 estimates. For in vivo experiments, T1 and T2 maps from MB=2 t-Blipped SMS-MRF have a high agreement with ones from conventional MRF.
CONCLUSION: The MB=2 t-Blipped SMS-MRF acquisition/reconstruction method has been demonstrated and validated to provide more rapid parameter mapping in the MRF framework.
Oscillatory neural dynamics play an important role in the coordination of large-scale brain networks. High-level cognitive processes depend on dynamics evolving over hundreds of milliseconds, so measuring neural activity in this frequency range is important for cognitive neuroscience. However, current noninvasive neuroimaging methods are not able to precisely localize oscillatory neural activity above 0.2 Hz. Electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography have limited spatial resolution, whereas fMRI has limited temporal resolution because it measures vascular responses rather than directly recording neural activity. We hypothesized that the recent development of fast fMRI techniques, combined with the extra sensitivity afforded by ultra-high-field systems, could enable precise localization of neural oscillations. We tested whether fMRI can detect neural oscillations using human visual cortex as a model system. We detected small oscillatory fMRI signals in response to stimuli oscillating at up to 0.75 Hz within single scan sessions, and these responses were an order of magnitude larger than predicted by canonical linear models. Simultaneous EEG-fMRI and simulations based on a biophysical model of the hemodynamic response to neuronal activity suggested that the blood oxygen level-dependent response becomes faster for rapidly varying stimuli, enabling the detection of higher frequencies than expected. Accounting for phase delays across voxels further improved detection, demonstrating that identifying vascular delays will be of increasing importance with higher-frequency activity. These results challenge the assumption that the hemodynamic response is slow, and demonstrate that fMRI has the potential to map neural oscillations directly throughout the brain.
OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to map the in vivo human functional connectivity of several brainstem nuclei with the rest of the brain by using seed-based correlation of ultra-high magnetic field functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We used the recently developed template of 11 brainstem nuclei derived from multi-contrast structural MRI at 7 Tesla as seed regions to determine their connectivity to the rest of the brain. To achieve this, we used the increased contrast-to-noise ratio of 7-Tesla fMRI compared with 3 Tesla and time-efficient simultaneous multi-slice imaging to cover the brain with high spatial resolution (1.1-mm isotropic nominal resolution) while maintaining a short repetition time (2.5 s).
RESULTS: The delineated Pearson's correlation-based functional connectivity diagrams (connectomes) of 11 brainstem nuclei of the ascending arousal, motor, and autonomic systems from 12 controls are presented and discussed in the context of existing histology and animal work.
CONCLUSION: Considering that the investigated brainstem nuclei play a crucial role in several vital functions, the delineated preliminary connectomes might prove useful for future in vivo research and clinical studies of human brainstem function and pathology, including disorders of consciousness, sleep disorders, autonomic disorders, Parkinson's disease, and other motor disorders.
Diffusion MRI (dMRI) can provide invaluable information about the structure of different tissue types in the brain. Standard dMRI acquisitions facilitate a proper analysis (e.g. tracing) of medium-to-large white matter bundles. However, smaller fiber bundles connecting very small cortical or sub-cortical regions cannot be traced accurately in images with large voxel sizes. Yet, the ability to trace such fiber bundles is critical for several applications such as deep brain stimulation and neurosurgery. In this work, we propose a novel acquisition and reconstruction scheme for obtaining high spatial resolution dMRI images using multiple low resolution (LR) images, which is effective in reducing acquisition time while improving the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The proposed method called compressed-sensing super resolution reconstruction (CS-SRR), uses multiple overlapping thick-slice dMRI volumes that are under-sampled in q-space to reconstruct diffusion signal with complex orientations. The proposed method combines the twin concepts of compressed sensing and super-resolution to model the diffusion signal (at a given b-value) in a basis of spherical ridgelets with total-variation (TV) regularization to account for signal correlation in neighboring voxels. A computationally efficient algorithm based on the alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM) is introduced for solving the CS-SRR problem. The performance of the proposed method is quantitatively evaluated on several in-vivo human data sets including a true SRR scenario. Our experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method can be used for reconstructing sub-millimeter super resolution dMRI data with very good data fidelity in clinically feasible acquisition time.
This paper introduces a statistical estimation framework for magnetic resonance (MR) fingerprinting, a recently proposed quantitative imaging paradigm. Within this framework, we present a maximum likelihood (ML) formalism to estimate multiple MR tissue parameter maps directly from highly undersampled, noisy k-space data. A novel algorithm, based on variable splitting, the alternating direction method of multipliers, and the variable projection method, is developed to solve the resulting optimization problem. Representative results from both simulations and in vivo experiments demonstrate that the proposed approach yields significantly improved accuracy in parameter estimation, compared to the conventional MR fingerprinting reconstruction. Moreover, the proposed framework provides new theoretical insights into the conventional approach. We show analytically that the conventional approach is an approximation to the ML reconstruction; more precisely, it is exactly equivalent to the first iteration of the proposed algorithm for the ML reconstruction, provided that a gridding reconstruction is used as an initialization.
Magnetic resonance (MR) fingerprinting is an emerging quantitative MR imaging technique that simultaneously acquires multiple tissue parameters in an efficient experiment. In this work, we present an estimation-theoretic framework to evaluate and design MR fingerprinting experiments. More specifically, we derive the Cramér-Rao bound (CRB), a lower bound on the covariance of any unbiased estimator, to characterize parameter estimation for MR fingerprinting. We then formulate an optimal experiment design problem based on the CRB to choose a set of acquisition parameters (e.g., flip angles and/or repetition times) that maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio efficiency of the resulting experiment. The utility of the proposed approach is validated by numerical studies. Representative results demonstrate that the optimized experiments allow for substantial reduction in the length of an MR fingerprinting acquisition, and substantial improvement in parameter estimation performance.
Three-dimensional gradient echo (GRE) is the main workhorse sequence used for susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI), quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM), and susceptibility tensor imaging (STI). Achieving optimal phase signal-to-noise ratio requires late echo times, thus necessitating a long repetition time (TR). Combined with the large encoding burden of whole-brain coverage with high resolution, this leads to increased scan time. Further, the dipole kernel relating the tissue phase to the underlying susceptibility distribution undersamples the frequency content of the susceptibility map. Scans at multiple head orientations along with calculation of susceptibility through multi-orientation sampling (COSMOS) are one way to effectively mitigate this issue. Additionally, STI requires a minimum of 6 head orientations to solve for the independent tensor elements in each voxel. The requirements of high-resolution imaging with long TR at multiple orientations substantially lengthen the acquisition of COSMOS and STI. The goal of this work is to dramatically speed up susceptibility mapping at multiple head orientations. We demonstrate highly efficient acquisition using 3D-GRE with Wave-CAIPI and dramatically reduce the acquisition time of these protocols. Using R=15-fold acceleration with Wave-CAIPI permits acquisition per head orientation in 90s at 1.1mm isotropic resolution, and 5:35min at 0.5mm isotropic resolution. Since Wave-CAIPI fully harnesses the 3D spatial encoding capability of receive arrays, the maximum g-factor noise amplification remains below 1.30 at 3T and 1.12 at 7T. This allows a 30-min exam for STI with 12 orientations, thus paving the way to its clinical application.
PURPOSE: To develop and implement an efficient reconstruction technique to improve accelerated multi-channel multi-contrast MRI.
THEORY AND METHODS: The vectorial total generalized variation (TGV) operator is used as a regularizer for the sensitivity encoding (SENSE) technique to improve image quality of multi-channel multi-contrast MRI. The alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM) is used to efficiently reconstruct the data. The performance of the proposed method (MC-TGV-SENSE) is assessed on two healthy volunteers at several acceleration factors.
RESULTS: As demonstrated on the in vivo results, MC-TGV-SENSE had the lowest root-mean-square error (RMSE), highest structural similarity index, and best visual quality at all acceleration factors, compared to other methods under consideration. MC-TGV-SENSE yielded up to 17.3% relative RMSE reduction compared to the widely used total variation regularized SENSE. Furthermore, we observed that the reconstruction time of MC-TGV-SENSE is reduced by approximately a factor of two with comparable RMSEs by using the proposed ADMM-based algorithm as opposed to the more commonly used Chambolle-Pock primal-dual algorithm for the TGV-based reconstruction.
CONCLUSION: MC-TGV-SENSE is a better alternative than the existing reconstruction methods for accelerated multi-channel multi-contrast MRI. The proposed method exploits shared information among the images (MC), mitigates staircasing artifacts (TGV), and uses the encoding power of multiple receiver coils (SENSE).
We present an innovative framework for reconstructing high-spatial-resolution diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) from multiple low-resolution (LR) images. Our approach combines the twin concepts of compressed sensing (CS) and classical super-resolution to reduce acquisition time while increasing spatial resolution. We use subpixel-shifted LR images with down-sampled and non-overlapping diffusion directions to reduce acquisition time. The diffusion signal in the high resolution (HR) image is represented in a sparsifying basis of spherical ridgelets to model complex fiber orientations with reduced number of measurements. The HR image is obtained as the solution of a convex optimization problem which can be solved using the proposed algorithm based on the alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM). We qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate the performance of our method on two sets of in-vivo human brain data and show its effectiveness in accurately recovering very high resolution diffusion images.
PURPOSE: To design parallel transmit (pTx) simultaneous multislice (SMS) spokes pulses with explicit control for peak power and local and global specific absorption rate (SAR).
METHODS: We design SMS pTx least-squares and magnitude least squares spokes pulses while constraining local SAR using the virtual observation points (VOPs) compression of SAR matrices. We evaluate our approach in simulations of a head (7T) and a body (3T) coil with eight channels arranged in two z-rows.
RESULTS: For many of our simulations, control of average power by Tikhonov regularization of the SMS pTx spokes pulse design yielded pulses that violated hardware and SAR safety limits. On the other hand, control of peak power alone yielded pulses that violated local SAR limits. Pulses optimized with control of both local SAR and peak power satisfied all constraints and therefore had the best excitation performance under limited power and SAR constraints. These results extend our previous results for single slice pTx excitations but are more pronounced because of the large power demands and SAR of SMS pulses.
CONCLUSIONS: Explicit control of local SAR and peak power is required to generate optimal SMS pTx excitations satisfying both the system's hardware limits and regulatory safety limits.