Evan J. Zucker MD, Joseph Y. Cheng PhD, Anshul Haldipur MD, Michael Carl PhD, Shreyas S. Vasanawala MD, PhD
To assess the feasibility and performance of conical k-space trajectory free-breathing ultrashort echo time (UTE) chest magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) versus four-dimensional (4D) flow and effects of 50% data subsampling and soft-gated motion correction.
Materials and Methods
Thirty-two consecutive children who underwent both 4D flow and UTE ferumoxytol-enhanced chest MR (mean age: 5.4 years, range: 6 days to 15.7 years) in one 3T exam were recruited. From UTE k-space data, three image sets were reconstructed: 1) one with all data, 2) one using the first 50% of data, and 3) a final set with soft-gating motion correction, leveraging the signal magnitude immediately after each excitation. Two radiologists in blinded fashion independently scored image quality of anatomical landmarks on a 5-point scale. Ratings were compared using Wilcoxon rank-sum, Wilcoxon signed-ranks, and Kruskal–Wallis tests. Interobserver agreement was assessed with the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).
For fully sampled UTE, mean scores for all structures were ≥4 (good-excellent). Full UTE surpassed 4D flow for lungs and airways (P < 0.001), with similar pulmonary artery (PA) quality (P = 0.62). 50% subsampling only slightly degraded all landmarks (P < 0.001), as did motion correction. Subsegmental PA visualization was possible in >93% scans for all techniques (P = 0.27). Interobserver agreement was excellent for combined scores (ICC = 0.83).
High-quality free-breathing conical UTE chest MR is feasible, surpassing 4D flow for lungs and airways, with equivalent PA visualization. Data subsampling only mildly degraded images, favoring lesser scan times. Soft-gating motion correction overall did not improve image quality.
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