Zoomed EPI-DWI of the pancreas using two-dimensional spatially-selective radiofrequency excitation pulses

PLoS One. 2014 Mar 3;9(3):e89468. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089468. eCollection 2014.


Background: Implementation of DWI in the abdomen is challenging due to artifacts, particularly those arising from differences in tissue susceptibility. Two-dimensional, spatially-selective radiofrequency (RF) excitation pulses for single-shot echo-planar imaging (EPI) combined with a reduction in the FOV in the phase-encoding direction (i.e. zooming) leads to a decreased number of k-space acquisition lines, significantly shortening the EPI echo train and potentially susceptibility artifacts.

Purpose: To assess the feasibility and image quality of a zoomed diffusion-weighted EPI (z-EPI) sequence in MR imaging of the pancreas. The approach is compared to conventional single-shot EPI (c-EPI).

Material and methods: 23 patients who had undergone an MRI study of the abdomen were included in this retrospective study. Examinations were performed on a 3T whole-body MR system (Magnetom Skyra, Siemens) equipped with a two-channel fully dynamic parallel transmit array (TimTX TrueShape, Siemens). The acquired sequences consisted of a conventional EPI DWI of the abdomen and a zoomed EPI DWI of the pancreas. For z-EPI, the standard sinc excitation was replaced with a two-dimensional spatially-selective RF pulse using an echo-planar transmit trajectory. Images were evaluated with regard to image blur, respiratory motion artifacts, diagnostic confidence, delineation of the pancreas, and overall scan preference. Additionally ADC values of the pancreatic head, body, and tail were calculated and compared between sequences.

Results: The pancreas was better delineated in every case (23/23) with z-EPI versus c-EPI. In every case (23/23), both readers preferred z-EPI overall to c-EPI. With z-EPI there was statistically significantly less image blur (p<0.0001) and respiratory motion artifact compared to c-EPI (p<0.0001). Diagnostic confidence was statistically significantly better with z-EPI (p<0.0001). No statistically significant differences in calculated ADC values were observed between the two sequences.

Conclusion: Zoomed diffusion-weighted EPI leads to substantial image quality improvements with reduction of susceptibility artifacts in pancreatic DWI.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Radio Waves*
  • Retrospective Studies

Grants and funding

The authors have no support or funding to report.