Purpose: Simultaneous brain and spinal cord functional MRI is emerging as a new tool to study the central nervous system but is challenging. Poor B0 homogeneity and small size of the spinal cord are principal obstacles to this nascent technology. Here we extend a dynamic shimming approach, first posed by Finsterbusch, by shimming per slice for both the brain and spinal cord.
Methods: We shim dynamically by a simple and fast optimization of linear field gradients and frequency offset separately for each slice in order to minimize off-resonance for both the brain and spinal cord. Simultaneous acquisition of brain and spinal cord fMRI is achieved with high spatial resolution in the spinal cord by means of an echo-planar RF pulse for reduced FOV. Brain slice acquisition is full FOV.
Results: T2*-weighted images of brain and spinal cord are acquired with high clarity and minimal observable image artifacts. Fist-clenching fMRI experiments reveal task-consistent activation in motor cortices, cerebellum, and C6-T1 spinal segments.
Conclusions: High quality functional results are obtained for a sensory-motor task. Consistent activation in both the brain and spinal cord is observed at individual levels, not only at group level. Because reduced FOV excitation is applicable to any spinal cord section, future continuation of these methods holds great potential.
Keywords: dynamic shimming; fMRI; reduced FOV; simultaneous brain and spinal cord fMRI; spinal cord.
© 2018 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.