Radial ultrashort TE imaging removes the need for breath-holding in hepatic iron overload quantification by R2∗ MRI


OBJECTIVE. The objective of this study is to evaluate radial free-breathing (FB) multiecho ultrashort TE (UTE) imaging as an alternative to Cartesian FB multiecho gradient-recalled echo (GRE) imaging for quantitative assessment of hepatic iron content (HIC) in sedated patients and subjects unable to perform breath-hold (BH) maneuvers. MATERIALS AND METHODS. FB multiecho GRE imaging and FB multiecho UTE imaging were conducted for 46 test group patients with iron overload who could not complete BH maneuvers (38 patients were sedated, and eight were not sedated) and 16 control patients who could complete BH maneuvers. Control patients also underwent standard BH multiecho GRE imaging. Quantitative R2∗ maps were calculated, and mean liver R2∗ values and coefficients of variation (CVs) for different acquisitions and patient groups were compared using statistical analysis. RESULTS. FB multiecho GRE images displayed motion artifacts and significantly lower R2∗ values, compared with standard BH multiecho GRE images and FB multiecho UTE images in the control cohort and FB multiecho UTE images in the test cohort. In contrast, FB multiecho UTE images produced artifact-free R2∗ maps, and mean R2∗ values were not significantly different from those measured by BH multiecho GRE imaging. Motion artifacts on FB multiecho GRE images resulted in an R2∗ CV that was approximately twofold higher than the R2∗ CV from BH multiecho GRE imaging and FB multiecho UTE imaging. The R2∗ CV was relatively constant over the range of R2∗ values for FB multiecho UTE, but it increased with increases in R2∗ for FB multiecho GRE imaging, reflecting that motion artifacts had a stronger impact on R2∗ estimation with increasing iron burden. CONCLUSION. FB multiecho UTE imaging was less motion sensitive because of radial sampling, produced excellent image quality, and yielded accurate R2∗ estimates within the same acquisition time used for multiaveraged FB multiecho GRE imaging. Thus, FB multiecho UTE imaging is a viable alternative for accurate HIC assessment in sedated children and patients who cannot complete BH maneuvers.

Publication Title

American Journal of Roentgenology