Improved pulmonary 129 Xe ventilation imaging via 3D-spiral UTE MRI

Magn Reson Med. 2020 Jul;84(1):312-320. doi: 10.1002/mrm.28114. Epub 2019 Dec 1.


Purpose: Hyperpolarized 129 Xe MRI characterizes regional lung ventilation in a variety of disease populations, with high sensitivity to airway obstruction in early disease. However, ventilation images are usually limited to a single breath-hold and most-often acquired using gradient-recalled echo sequences with thick slices (~10-15 mm), which increases partial-volume effects, limits ability to observe small defects, and suffers from imperfect slice selection. We demonstrate higher-resolution ventilation images, in shorter breath-holds, using FLORET (Fermat Looped ORthogonally Encoded Trajectories), a center-out 3D-spiral UTE sequence.

Methods: In vivo human adult (N = 4; 2 healthy, 2 with cystic fibrosis) 129 Xe images were acquired using 2D gradient-recalled echo, 3D radial, and FLORET. Each sequence was acquired at its highest possible resolution within a 16-second breath-hold with a minimum voxel dimension of 3 mm. Images were compared using 129 Xe ventilation defect percentage, SNR, similarity coefficients, and vasculature cross-sections.

Results: The FLORET sequence obtained relative normalized SNR, 40% greater than 2D gradient-recalled echo (P = .012) and 26% greater than 3D radial (P = .067). Moreover, the FLORET images were acquired with 3-fold-higher nominal resolution in a 15% shorter breath-hold. Finally, vasculature was less prominent in FLORET, likely due to diminished susceptibility-induced dephasing at shorter TEs afforded by UTE sequences.

Conclusion: The FLORET sequence yields higher SNR for a given resolution with a shorter breath-hold than traditional ventilation imaging techniques. This sequence more accurately measures ventilation abnormalities and enables reduced scan times in patients with poor compliance and severe lung disease.

Keywords: 129Xe; FLORET; UTE; non-Cartesian; spiral; ventilation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breath Holding
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Respiration