Purpose: To establish whether reliable voxel-wise assessment of perfusion in cerebral white matter (WM) is possible using arterial spin labeling (ASL) at 3T in a cohort of healthy subjects.
Materials and methods: Pseudo-continuous ASL (PCASL) with background suppression (BS) optimized for WM measurements was performed at 3T in eight healthy male volunteers aged 25-41. Four different labeling schemes were evaluated by varying the labeling duration (LD) and post-labeling delay (PLD). Eight slices with voxel dimension 3.75x3.75x5 mm3 were acquired from the anterosuperior aspect of the brain, and 400 image/control pairs were collected for each run. Rigid head immobilization was applied using individually fitted thermoplastic masks. For each voxel in the resulting ASL time series, the time needed to reach a 95% significance level for the ASL signal to be higher than zero (paired t-test), was estimated.
Results: The four protocols detected between 88% and 95% (after Bonferroni correction: 75% and 88%) of WM voxels at 95% significance level. In the most efficient sequence, 80% was reached after 5 min and 95% after 53 min (after Bonferroni correction 40% and 88% respectively). For all protocols, the fraction of significant WM voxels increased in an asymptotic fashion with increasing scan time. A small subgroup of voxels was shown to not benefit at all from prolonged measurement.
Conclusion: Acquisition of a significant ASL signal from a majority of WM voxels is possible within clinically acceptable scan times, whereas full coverage needs prohibitively long scan times, as a result of the asymptotic trajectory.