MR Fingerprinting with b-Tensor Encoding for Simultaneous Quantification of Relaxation and Diffusion in a Single Scan
Although both relaxation and diffusion imaging are sensitive to tissue microstructure, studies have reported limited sensitivity and robustness of using relaxation or conventional diffusion alone to characterize tissue microstructure. Recently, it has been shown that tensor-valued diffusion encoding and joint relaxation-diffusion quantification enable more reliable quantification of compartment-specific microstructural properties. However, scan times to acquire such data can be prohibitive. Here, we aim to simultaneously quantify relaxation and diffusion using MR fingerprinting (MRF) and b-tensor encoding in a clinically feasible time.
We developed multidimensional MRF scans (mdMRF) with linear and spherical b-tensor encoding (LTE and STE) to simultaneously quantify T1, T2, and ADC maps from a single scan. The image quality, accuracy, and scan efficiency were compared between the mdMRF using LTE and STE. Moreover, we investigated the robustness of different sequence designs to signal errors and their impact on the maps.
T1 and T2 maps derived from the mdMRF scans have consistently high image quality, while ADC maps are sensitive to different sequence designs. Notably, the fast imaging steady state precession (FISP)-based mdMRF scan with peripheral pulse gating provides the best ADC maps that are free of image distortion and shading artifacts.
We demonstrated the feasibility of quantifying T1, T2, and ADC maps simultaneously from a single mdMRF scan in around 24 s/slice. The map quality and quantitative values are consistent with the reference scans.