Blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI) can be severely hampered by signal loss due to susceptibility-induced static magnetic field (B(0)) inhomogeneities near air/tissue interfaces. A single-shot spiral-in/out sequence with a z-shim gradient embedded between the two acquisitions was previously proposed to efficiently recover the signal. However, despite promising results, this technique had several limitations, which are addressed here as follows. First, by adding a second z-shim gradient before the spiral-in acquisition and optimizing both z-shim gradients slice-by-slice, a significantly more uniform signal recovery can be achieved. Second, by acquiring a B(0) map, the optimal z-shim gradients can be directly, efficiently, and accurately determined for each subject. Third, by complementing the z-shimming approach with sensitivity encoding (SENSE), the in-plane spatial resolution can be increased and, hence, susceptibility artifacts further reduced, while maintaining a high temporal resolution for fMRI applications. These advantages are demonstrated in human functional studies.
2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc