Free-breathing radial 3D fat-suppressed T1-weighted gradient echo sequence: a viable alternative for contrast-enhanced liver imaging in patients unable to suspend respiration

Invest Radiol. 2011 Oct;46(10):648-53. doi: 10.1097/RLI.0b013e31821eea45.


Objective: : To compare free-breathing radially sampled 3D fat suppressed T1-weighted gradient-echo acquisitions (radial volumetric interpolated breath-hold examination [VIBE]) with breath-hold (BH) and free-breathing conventional (rectilinearly sampled k-space) VIBE acquisitions for postcontrast imaging of the liver.

Materials and methods: : Eighteen consecutive patients referred for clinically indicated liver magnetic resonance imaging were imaged at 3 T. Three minutes after a single dose of gadolinium contrast injection, free-breathing radial VIBE, BH VIBE, and free-breathing VIBE with 4 averages were acquired in random order with matching sequence parameters. Radial VIBE was acquired with the "stack-of-stars" scheme, which uses conventional sampling in the slice direction and radial sampling in-plane.All image data sets were evaluated independently by 3 radiologists blinded to patient and sequence information. Each reader scored the following parameters: overall image quality, respiratory motion artifact, pulsation artifact, liver edge sharpness, and hepatic vessel clarity using a 5-point scale, with the highest score indicating the most optimum examination. Mixed model analysis of variance was used to compare sequences in terms of each measure of image quality.

Results: : When scores were averaged over readers, there was no statistically significant difference between radial VIBE and BH VIBE regarding overall image quality (P = 0.1015), respiratory motion artifact (P = 1.0), and liver edge sharpness (P = 0.2955). Radial VIBE demonstrated significantly lower pulsation artifact (P < 0.0001), but had lower hepatic vessel clarity (P = 0.0176), when compared with BH VIBE. Radial VIBE had significantly higher image quality scores for all parameters when compared with free-breathing VIBE (P < 0.0001). Acquisition time for BH VIBE was 14 seconds and that of free-breathing radial VIBE and conventional VIBE with multiple averages was 56 seconds each.

Conclusion: : Radial VIBE can be performed during free breathing for contrast-enhanced imaging of the liver with comparable image quality to BH VIBE. However, further work is necessary to shorten the acquisition time to perform dynamic imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Artifacts
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration*


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA