Objectives: To evaluate whether readout-segmented echo-planar imaging (RS-EPI) diffusion weighted image (DWI) can diminish image distortion in the head and neck area, compared with single-shot (SS)-EPI DWI.
Methods: We conducted phantom and patient studies using 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a 16-channel coil. For the phantom study, we evaluated distortion and signal homogeneity in gel phantoms. For the patient study, 29 consecutive patients with clinically suspicious parotid lesions were prospectively enrolled. RS-EPI and SS-EPI DWI were evaluated by two independent readers for identification of organ/lesion and distortion, using semiquantitative scales and quantitative scores. Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values and contrast-noise ratios of parotid tumours (if present; n = 15) were also compared.
Results: The phantom experiments showed that RS-EPI provided less distorted and more homogeneous ADC maps than SS-EPI. In the patient study, RS-EPI was found to provide significantly less distortion in almost all organs/lesions (p < 0.05), according to both semiquantitative scales and quantitative scores. There was no significant difference in ADC values and contrast-noise ratios between the two DWI techniques.
Conclusions: The distortion in DWI was significantly reduced with RS-EPI in both phantom and patient studies. The RS-EPI technique provided more homogenous images than SS-EPI, and can potentially offer higher image quality in the head and neck area.
Key points: The distortion in DWI is significantly reduced with RS-EPI compared with SS-EPI. Structures in the head and neck were identified more clearly using RS-EPI. No significant difference in ADC values was found between the techniques.