Rigid-body motion correction in hybrid PET/MRI using spherical navigator echoes

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Physics in Medicine and Biology





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Integrated positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) is an imaging technology that provides complementary anatomical and functional information for medical diagnostics. Both PET and MRI are highly susceptible to motion artifacts due, in part, to long acquisition times. The simultaneous acquisition of the two modalities presents the opportunity to use MRI navigator techniques for motion correction of both PET and MRI data. For this task, we propose spherical navigator echoes (SNAVs) - 3D k-space navigators that can accurately and rapidly measure rigid body motion in all six degrees of freedom. SNAVs were incorporated into turbo FLASH (tfl) - a product fast gradient echo sequence - to create the tfl-SNAV pulse sequence. Acquiring in vivo brain images from a healthy volunteer with both sequences first compared the tfl-SNAV and product tfl sequences. It was observed that incorporation of the SNAVs into the image sequence did not have any detrimental impact on the image quality. The SNAV motion correction technique was evaluated using an anthropomorphic brain phantom. Following a stationary reference image where the tfl-SNAV sequence was acquired along with simultaneous list-mode PET, three identical PET/MRI scans were performed where the phantom was moved several times throughout each acquisition. This motion - up to 11° and 14 mm - resulted in motion artifacts in both PET and MR images. Following SNAV motion correction of the MRI and PET list-mode data, artifact reduction was achieved for both the PET and MR images in all three motion trials. The corrected images have improved image quality and are quantitatively more similar to the ground truth reference images.

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