Objectives: The aim of this study was to develop a method for tracking respiratory motion throughout full MR or PET/MR studies that requires only minimal additional hardware and no modifications to the sequences.
Materials and methods: Patient motion that is caused by respiration affects the quality of the signal of the individual radiofrequency receive coil elements. This effect can be detected as a modulation of a monofrequent signal that is emitted by a small portable transmitter placed inside the bore (Pilot Tone). The frequency is selected such that it is located outside of the frequency band of the actual MR readout experiment but well within the bandwidth of the radiofrequency receiver, that is, the oversampling area. Temporal variations of the detected signal indicate motion. After extraction of the signal from the raw data, principal component analysis was used to identify respiratory motion. The approach and potential applications during MR and PET/MR examinations that rely on a continuous respiratory signal were validated with an anthropomorphic, PET/MR-compatible motion phantom as well as in a volunteer study.
Results: Respiratory motion detection and correction were presented for MR and PET data in phantom and volunteer studies. The Pilot Tone successfully recovered the ground-truth respiratory signal provided by the phantom.
Conclusions: The presented method provides reliable respiratory motion tracking during arbitrary imaging sequences throughout a full PET/MR study. All results can directly be transferred to MR-only applications as well.