Single-shot echo-planar imaging (ss-EPI) has not been used widely for diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) of the spinal cord, because of the magnetic field inhomogeneities around the spine, the small cross-sectional size of the spinal cord, and the increased motion in that area due to breathing, swallowing, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pulsation. These result in artifacts with the usually long readout duration of the ss-EPI method. Reduced field-of-view (FOV) methods decrease the required readout duration for ss-EPI, thereby enabling its practical application to imaging of the spine. In this work, a reduced FOV single-shot diffusion-weighted echo-planar imaging (ss-DWEPI) method is proposed, in which a 2D spatially selective echo-planar RF excitation pulse and a 180 degrees refocusing pulse reduce the FOV in the phase-encode (PE) direction, while suppressing the signal from fat simultaneously. With this method, multi slice images with higher in-plane resolutions (0.94 x 0.94 mm(2) for sagittal and 0.62 x 0.62 mm(2) for axial images) are achieved at 1.5 T, without the need for a longer readout.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.