AUTHORS: Darçot E, Yerly J, Hilbert T, Colotti R, Najdenovska E, Kober T, Stuber M, van Heeswijk R

NMR in Biomedicine, 34(1): e4418, January 2021


Fluorine-19 (19 F) MRI of injected perfluorocarbon emulsions (PFCs) allows for the non-invasive quantification of inflammation and cell tracking, but suffers from a low signal-to-noise ratio and extended scan time. To address this limitation, we tested the hypotheses that a 19 F MRI pulse sequence that combines a specific undersampling regime with signal averaging has both increased sensitivity and robustness against motion artifacts compared with a non-averaged fully sampled pulse sequence, when both datasets are reconstructed with compressed sensing. As a proof of principle, numerical simulations and phantom experiments were performed on selected variable ranges to characterize the point spread function of undersampling patterns, as well as the vulnerability to noise of undersampling and reconstruction parameters with paired numbers of x signal averages and acceleration factor x (NAx-AFx). The numerical simulations demonstrated that a probability density function that uses 25% of the samples to fully sample the k-space central area allowed for an optimal balance between limited blurring and artifact incoherence. At all investigated noise levels, the Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) strongly depended on the regularization parameters and acceleration factor. In phantoms, the motion robustness of an NA8-AF8 undersampling pattern versus NA1-AF1 was evaluated with simulated and real motion patterns. Differences were assessed with the DSC, which was consistently higher for the NA8-AF8 compared with the NA1-AF1 strategy, for both simulated and real cyclic motion patterns (P < 0.001). Both strategies were validated in vivo in mice (n = 2) injected with perfluoropolyether. Here, the images displayed a sharper delineation of the liver with the NA8-AF8 strategy than with the NA1-AF1 strategy. In conclusion, we validated the hypotheses that in 19 F MRI the combination of undersampling and averaging improves both the sensitivity and the robustness against motion artifacts.

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