Contrast between blood and myocardium in standard turbo gradient echo MR techniques (TFE) used routinely in clinical practice is mainly caused by unsaturated inflowing blood. Steady-state free precession (SSFP) has excellent contrast even in the absence of inflow effects. In 45 subjects cardiac cine loops in two long axis projections were acquired using TFE and compared with SSFP. A visual score (range 0 worst - 3 best) was assigned for endocardial border delineation for six myocardial segments in two long axis views. Endocardial border delineation score for TFE was 1.3 +/- 0.3 per segment and 2.4 +/- 0.3 for SSFP (P < 0.0001). Signal intensity blood/signal intensity myocardium was 1.5 +/- 0.4 at enddiastole and 1.4 +/- 0.3 at systole for TFE and 3.5 +/- 1.1 and 3.2 +/- 1.3 for SSFP, respectively (P < 0.0001). SSFP increases contrast between blood and myocardium more than twofold, resulting in an improved endocardial border definition. This may reduce variability for the determination of cardiac volumes and ejection fraction.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.