PURPOSE: Spinal cord MRI at ultrahigh field is hampered by time-varying magnetic fields associated with the breathing cycle, giving rise to ghosting artifacts in multi-shot acquisitions. Here, we suggest a correction approach based on linking the signal from a respiratory bellows to field changes inside the spinal cord. The information is used to correct the data at the image reconstruction level. METHODS: The correction was demonstrated in the context of multi-shot T2*-weighted imaging of the cervical spinal cord at 7T. A respiratory trace was acquired during a high-resolution multi-echo gradient-echo sequence, used for structural imaging and quantitative T2* mapping, and a multi-shot EPI time series, as would be suitable for fMRI. The coupling between the trace and the breathing-induced fields was determined by a short calibration scan in each individual. Images were reconstructed with and without trace-based correction. RESULTS: In the multi-echo acquisition, breathing-induced fields caused severe ghosting in images with long TE, which led to a systematic underestimation of T2* in the spinal cord. The trace-based correction reduced the ghosting and increased the estimated T2* values. Breathing-related ghosting was also observed in the multi-shot EPI images. The correction largely removed the ghosting, thereby improving the temporal signal-to-noise ratio of the time series. CONCLUSIONS: Trace-based retrospective correction of breathing-induced field variations can reduce ghosting and improve quantitative metrics in multi-shot structural and functional T2*-weighted imaging of the spinal cord. The method is straightforward to implement and does not rely on sequence modifications or additional hardware beyond a respiratory bellows.
Magn Reson Med
3745 - 3753
7T MRI, T2* mapping, breathing-induced field fluctuations, multi-shot EPI, spinal cord imaging