Introduction: Displacement encoding with stimulated echoes (DENSE) is a phase contrast technique that encodes tissue displacement into phase images, which are typically processed into measures of cardiac function such as strains. For improved signal to noise ratio and spatiotemporal resolution, DENSE is often acquired with a spiral readout using an 11.1 ms readout duration. However, long spiral readout durations are prone to blurring due to common phenomena such as off-resonance and T2* decay, which may alter the resulting quantifications of strain. We hypothesized that longer readout durations would reduce image quality and underestimate cardiac strains at both 3.0 T and 1.5 T and that using short readout durations could overcome these limitations.
Material and methods: Computational simulations were performed to investigate the relationship between off-resonance and T2* decay, the spiral cine DENSE readout duration, and measured radial and circumferential strain. Five healthy participants subsequently underwent 2D spiral cine DENSE at both 3.0 T and 1.5 T with several different readout durations 11.1 ms and shorter. Pearson correlations were used to assess the relationship between cardiac strains and the spiral readout duration.
Results: Simulations demonstrated that long readout durations combined with off-resonance and T2* decay yield blurred images and underestimate strains. With the typical 11.1 ms DENSE readout, blurring was present in the anterior and lateral left ventricular segments of participants and was markedly improved with shorter readout durations. Radial and circumferential strains from those segments were significantly correlated with the readout duration. Compared to the 1.9 ms readout, the 11.1 ms readout underestimated radial and circumferential strains in those segments at both field strengths by up to 19.6% and 1.5% (absolute), or 42% and 7% (relative), respectively.
Conclusions: Blurring is present in spiral cine DENSE images acquired at both 3.0 T and 1.5 T using the typical 11.1 ms readout duration, which yielded substantially reduced radial strains and mildly reduced circumferential strains. Clinical studies using spiral cine DENSE should consider these limitations, while future technical advances may need to leverage accelerated techniques to improve the robustness and accuracy of the DENSE acquisition rather than focusing solely on reduced acquisition time.
Keywords: Blurring; DENSE; Off-resonance; Spiral; Strain; T2*.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.