The aim of this study is to overcome the current limits of brain coverage available with multi-slice echo planar imaging (EPI) for vascular space occupancy (VASO) mapping. By incorporating simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) EPI image acquisition into slice-saturation slab-inversion VASO (SS-SI VASO), many more slices can be acquired for non-invasive functional measurements of blood volume responses. Blood-volume-weighted VASO and gradient echo blood oxygenation level-dependent (GE-BOLD) data were acquired in humans at 7T with a 32-channel head coil. SMS-VASO was applied in three scenarios: A) high-resolution acquisition of spatially distant brain areas in the visuo-motor network (V1/V5/M1/S1); B) high-resolution acquisition of an imaging slab covering the entire M1/S1 hand regions; and C) low-resolution acquisition with near whole-brain coverage. The results show that the SMS-VASO sequence provided images enabling robust detection of blood volume changes in up to 20 slices with signal readout durations shorter than 150ms. High-resolution application of SMS-VASO revealed improved specificity of VASO to GM tissue without contamination from large draining veins compared to GE-BOLD in the visual cortex and in the sensory-motor cortex. It is concluded that VASO fMRI with SMS-EPI allows obtaining a reasonable three-dimensional coverage not achievable with standard VASO during the short time period when blood magnetization is approximately nulled. Due to the increased brain coverage and better spatial specificity to GM tissue of VASO compared to GE-BOLD signal, the proposed method may play an important role in high-resolution human fMRI at 7T.
Keywords: 7Tesla MRI; Multi-band; SS-SI VASO; Simultaneous multi-slice; Vascular space occupancy; cerebral blood volume.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.