Simultaneous multislice acquisition with multi-contrast segmented EPI for separation of signal contributions in dynamic contrast-enhanced imaging
We present a method to efficiently separate signal in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) into a base signal S0, representing the mainly T1-weighted component without T2*-relaxation, and its T2*-weighted counterpart by the rapid acquisition of multiple contrasts for advanced pharmacokinetic modelling. This is achieved by incorporating simultaneous multislice (SMS) imaging into a multi-contrast, segmented echo planar imaging (EPI) sequence to allow extended spatial coverage, which covers larger body regions without time penalty. Simultaneous acquisition of four slices was combined with segmented EPI for fast imaging with three gradient echo times in a preclinical perfusion study. Six female domestic pigs, German-landrace or hybrid-form, were scanned for 11 minutes respectively during administration of gadolinium-based contrast agent. Influences of reconstruction methods and training data were investigated. The separation into T1- and T2*-dependent signal contributions was achieved by fitting a standard analytical model to the acquired multi-echo data. The application of SMS yielded sufficient temporal resolution for the detection of the arterial input function in major vessels, while anatomical coverage allowed perfusion analysis of muscle tissue. The separation of the MR signal into T1- and T2*-dependent components allowed the correction of susceptibility related changes. We demonstrate a novel sequence for dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI that meets the requirements of temporal resolution (Dt < 1.5 s) and image quality. The incorporation of SMS into multi-contrast, segmented EPI can overcome existing limitations of dynamic contrast enhancement and dynamic susceptibility contrast methods, when applied separately. The new approach allows both techniques to be combined in a single acquisition with a large spatial coverage.