Cardiac-related spinal cord motion affects diffusion-weighted (DWI) signal. The goal of this study was to further quantify the specific detrimental effect of cord translational motion on the DWI signal in order to make better informed decisions about the cost-benefit of cardiac gating. We designed an MRI-compatible phantom mimicking the spinal cord translational motion. Cardiac-gated DWI data were acquired by varying the trigger delay and the b-values. Evaluation of the effect of motion on the DWI signal was done by computing the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) along (z-direction) and orthogonal (y- and x-directions) to the phantom. The computed ADCs of the phantom moving along Z were similar for the three orthogonal diffusion-encoding directions, with an average value of 1.65·10-9 , 1.66·10-9 and 1.65·10-9 m2/s along X, Y and Z respectively. DW phase images on the other hand showed the expected linear relationship with phantom velocity. Pure translational motion has minor effect on the diffusion-weighted magnitude signal. The sudden signal drop typically observed in in vivo spinal cord DWI is likely not caused by translational motion of the spinal cord, and possibly originates from non-rigid compression/stretching of the cord and/or from intra-voxel incoherent motion (IVIM).
Keywords: Cardiac-gating; Spinal cord diffusion imaging; Spinal cord movement.
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