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PURPOSE: Hepatic iron content (HIC) quantification via transverse relaxation rate (R2*)-MRI using multi-gradient echo (mGRE) imaging is compromised toward high HIC or at higher fields due to the rapid signal decay. Our study aims at presenting an optimized 2D ultrashort echo time (UTE) sequence for R2* quantification to overcome these limitations. METHODS: Two-dimensional UTE imaging was realized via half-pulse excitation and radial center-out sampling. The sequence includes chemically selective saturation pulses to reduce streaking artifacts from subcutaneous fat, and spatial saturation (sSAT) bands to suppress out-of-slice signals. The sequence employs interleaved multi-echo readout trains to achieve dense temporal sampling of rapid signal decays. Evaluation was done at 1.5 Tesla (T) and 3T in phantoms, and clinical applicability was demonstrated in five patients with biopsy-confirmed massively high HIC levels (>25 mg Fe/g dry weight liver tissue). RESULTS: In phantoms, the sSAT pulses were found to remove out-of-slice contamination, and R2* results were in excellent agreement to reference mGRE R2* results (slope of linear regression: 1.02/1.00 for 1.5/3T). UTE-based R2* quantification in patients with massive iron overload proved successful at both field strengths and was consistent with biopsy HIC values. CONCLUSION: The UTE sequence provides a means to measure R2* in patients with massive iron overload, both at 1.5T and 3T. Magn Reson Med, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original publication




Journal article


Magn Reson Med

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T2* quantification, UTE, half-pulse excitation, liver MRI, transfusional iron overload, ultrashort echo time imaging