Quantitative platform for accurate and reproducible assessment of transverse (T2) relaxation time

Dvir Radunsky, Neta Stern, Jannette Nassar, Galia Tsarfaty, Tamar Blumenfeld-Katzir, Noam Ben-Eliezer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

MRI's transverse relaxation time (T2) is sensitive to tissues' composition and pathological state. While variations in T2 values can be used as clinical biomarkers, it is challenging to quantify this parameter in vivo due to the complexity of the MRI signal model, differences in protocol implementations, and hardware imperfections. Herein, we provide a detailed analysis of the echo modulation curve (EMC) platform, offering accurate and reproducible mapping of T2 values, from 2D multi-slice multi-echo spin-echo (MESE) protocols. Computer simulations of the full Bloch equations are used to generate an advanced signal model, which accounts for stimulated echoes and transmit field (B1+) inhomogeneities. In addition to quantifying T2 values, the EMC platform also provides proton density (PD) maps, and fat-water fraction maps. The algorithm's accuracy, reproducibility, and insensitivity to T1 values are validated on a phantom constructed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and on in vivo human brains. EMC-derived T2 maps show excellent agreement with ground truth values for both in vitro and in vivo models. Quantitative values are accurate and stable across scan settings and for the physiological range of T2 values, while showing robustness to main field (B0) inhomogeneities, to variations in T1 relaxation time, and to magnetization transfer. Extension of the algorithm to two-component fitting yields accurate fat and water T2 maps along with their relative fractions, similar to a reference three-point Dixon technique. Overall, the EMC platform allows to generate accurate and stable T2 maps, with a full brain coverage using a standard MESE protocol and at feasible scan times. The utility of EMC-based T2 maps was demonstrated on several clinical applications, showing robustness to variations in other magnetic properties. The algorithm is available online as a full stand-alone package, including an intuitive graphical user interface.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4537
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Volume34
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • T accuracy
  • T mapping
  • T relaxation
  • clinical biomarker
  • quantitative MRI

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