Cardiac balanced steady-state free precession MRI at 0.35 T: a comparison study with 1.5 T

Shams Rashid, Fei Han, Yu Gao, Kyunghyun Sung, Minsong Cao, Yingli Yang, Peng Hu


Background: While low-field MRI is disadvantaged by a reduced signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) compared to higher fields, it has a number of useful features such as decreased SAR and shorter T1, and has shown promise for diagnostic imaging. This study demonstrates the feasibility of cardiac balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) MRI at 0.35 T and compares cardiac bSSFP MRI images at 0.35 T with those at 1.5 T.
Methods: Cardiac images were acquired in 7 healthy volunteers using an ECG-gated bSSFP cine sequence on a 0.35 T superconducting MR system as well as a clinical 1.5 T system. Blood and myocardium SNR and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were computed. Subjective image scoring was used to compare the image quality between 0.35 and 1.5 T.
Results: Cardiac images at 0.35 T were successfully acquired in all volunteers. While the 0.35 T images were noisier than those at 1.5 T, blood, myocardium and papillary muscles could be clearly delineated. At 0.35 T, bSSFP images were acquired at flip angles as high as 150°. Maximum CNR was achieved at 130°. Image quality scoring showed that while at lower flip angles, the 0.35 T images had poorer quality than the 1.5 T, but with flip angles of 110 and 130, the image quality at 0.35 T had scores similar to those at 1.5 T.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that cardiac bSSFP imaging is highly feasible at 0.35 T.