Echo-planar imaging (EPI) can provide rapid imaging by acquiring a complete k-space data set in a single acquisition. However, this approach suffers from distortion effects in geometry and intensity, resulting in poor image quality. The distortions, caused primarily by field inhomogeneities, lead to intensity loss and voxel shifts, the latter of which are particularly severe in the phase-encode direction. Two promising approaches to correct the distortion in EPI are field mapping and point spread function (PSF) mapping. The field mapping method measures the field distortions and translates these into voxel shifts, which can be used to assign image intensities to the correct voxel locations. The PSF approach uses acquisitions with additional phase-encoding gradients applied in the x, y, and/or z directions to map the 1D, 2D, or 3D PSF of each voxel. These PSFs encode the spatial information about the distortion and the overall distribution of intensities from a single voxel. The measured image is the convolution of the undistorted density and the PSF. Measuring the PSF allows the distortion in geometry and intensity to be corrected. This work compares the efficacy of these methods with equal time allowed for field mapping and PSF mapping.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.