B1 field map synthesis with generative deep learning used in the design of parallel-transmit RF pulses for ultra-high field MRI

Z Med Phys. 2022 Feb 7;S0939-3889(21)00116-1. doi: 10.1016/j.zemedi.2021.12.003. Online ahead of print.
[Article in German]


Spoke trajectory parallel transmit (pTX) excitation in ultra-high field MRI enables B1+ inhomogeneities arising from the shortened RF wavelength in biological tissue to be mitigated. To this end, current RF excitation pulse design algorithms either employ the acquisition of field maps with subsequent non-linear optimization or a universal approach applying robust pre-computed pulses. We suggest and evaluate an intermediate method that uses a subset of acquired field maps combined with generative machine learning models to reduce the pulse calibration time while offering more tailored excitation than robust pulses (RP). The possibility of employing image-to-image translation and semantic image synthesis machine learning models based on generative adversarial networks (GANs) to deduce the missing field maps is examined. Additionally, an RF pulse design that employs a predictive machine learning model to find solutions for the non-linear (two-spokes) pulse design problem is investigated. As a proof of concept, we present simulation results obtained with the suggested machine learning approaches that were trained on a limited data-set, acquired in vivo. The achieved excitation homogeneity based on a subset of half of the B1+ maps acquired in the calibration scans and half of the B1+ maps synthesized with GANs is comparable with state of the art pulse design methods when using the full set of calibration data while halving the total calibration time. By employing RP dictionaries or machine-learning RF pulse predictions, the total calibration time can be reduced significantly as these methods take only seconds or milliseconds per slice, respectively.

Keywords: MRI; Machine learning; Parallel transmission; RF pulse design.

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  • English Abstract