Using variable-rate selective excitation (VERSE) radiofrequency pulses to reduce power deposition in pulsed arterial spin labeling sequence at 7 Tesla
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
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Purpose: Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is an established noninvasive MRI technique used for cerebral blood flow measurement, which generally suffers from a low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The use of ultra-high fields to enhance sensitivity inevitably results in an increase in TR because of specific absorption rate (SAR) constraints, causing inadequate sampling of hemodynamic response in functional MRI, and adversely affecting concurrent measurement such as blood oxygen level dependent. To address this problem, variable-rate selective excitation (VERSE) radiofrequency (RF) pulses were used. Methods: The conventional (sinc) selective RF pulses of the Q2TIPS block in the PICORE pulsed ASL (PASL) sequence used for blood saturation were replaced by their equivalent VERSE RF waveforms. Nine healthy volunteers were scanned using the conventional and VERSE PASL sequences on a head-only 7T scanner operating in parallel transmit mode. Results: VERSE PASL sequence provides perfusion images similar to the conventional version, with comparable perfusion SNR (conventional, 3.33 ± 0.48; VERSE, 3.26 ± 0.55) and temporal SNR (conventional, 1.02 ± 0.20; VERSE, 1.05 ± 0.12) for TR = 3.5 seconds and 70 measurements. With shorter acquisition time (TR = 2.5 seconds), VERSE PASL sequence still provides similar results to those acquired using the conventional PASL sequence with longer TR = 3.5 seconds. Conclusion: The use of VERSE RF pulses in the Q2TIPS block of a PASL sequence allowed for the reduction of RF power deposition and, consequently, an increase in the temporal resolution and/or perfusion SNR.