Sub-millimeter imaging at 7T has opened new possibilities for qualitatively and quantitatively studying brain structure as it evolves throughout the life span. However, subject motion introduces image blurring on the order of magnitude of the spatial resolution and is thus detrimental to image quality. Such motion can be corrected for, but widespread application has not yet been achieved and quantitative evaluation is lacking. This raises a need to quantitatively measure image sharpness throughout the brain. We propose a method to quantify sharpness of brain structures at sub-voxel resolution, and use it to assess to what extent limited motion is related to image sharpness. The method was evaluated in a cohort of 24 healthy volunteers with a wide and uniform age range, aiming to arrive at results that largely generalize to larger populations. Using 3D fat-excited motion navigators, quantitative R1, R2* and Quantitative Susceptibility Maps and T1-weighted images were retrospectively corrected for motion. Sharpness was quantified in all modalities for selected regions of interest (ROI) by fitting the sigmoidally shaped error function to data within locally homogeneous clusters. A strong, almost linear correlation between motion and sharpness improvement was observed, and motion correction significantly improved sharpness. Overall, the Full Width at Half Maximum reduced from 0.88 mm to 0.70 mm after motion correction, equivalent to a 2.0 times smaller voxel volume. Motion and sharpness were not found to correlate with the age of study participants. We conclude that in our data, motion correction using fat navigators is overall able to restore the measured sharpness to the imaging resolution, irrespective of the amount of motion observed during scanning.
Keywords: Fat navigators; High-field MRI; Motion correction; Quantitative Imaging; Sharpness quantification.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.