Article Abstract

Exploring a new method for quantitative sodium MRI in the human upper leg with a surface coil and symmetrically arranged reference phantoms

Authors: Bastien Milani, Jean Delacoste, Michel Burnier, Menno Pruijm


Background: The aim of this study is to validate and evaluate the reproducibility of a new setup for the quantification of the tissue sodium concentration (TSC) in the human upper leg muscles with sodium MRI at 3 Tesla. This setup is making use of an emit and receive single loop surface coil together with a set of square, symmetrically arranged reference phantoms. As a second aim, the performances of two MRI protocols for the TSC quantification in the upper leg muscles are compared: one using an ultra-short echo time (UTE) 3-dimensional radial sequence (UTE-protocol), and the other one using standard gradient echo sequence (GRE-protocol).
Methods: A validation test of the quantification of sodium concentration is performed in phantoms. The bias of the method is estimated and compared between both protocols. The reproducibility of TSC quantification is assessed in phantoms by the coefficient of variation (CV) and compared between both protocols. The reproducibility is also assessed in 11 health volunteers. Signal to noise ratio (SNR) maps are acquired in phantoms with both protocols in order to compare the resulting SNR.
Results: The apparatus and post processing were successfully implemented. The bias of the method was smaller than 10% in phantoms (excepted for Na concentration of 10 mmol/L when using the GRE protocol). The reproducibility of the method using symmetrically arranged phantoms was high in phantoms and humans (CV <5%). The GRE-protocol leads to a better SNR than the UTE-protocol in 2D images.
Conclusions: The use of symmetrically arranged reference phantoms lead to reproducible results in phantoms and humans. Sodium imaging in the human upper leg with a single loop surface coil should be performed with a standard 2-dimensional GRE protocol if an optimal SNR is needed. However, the quantification of the fast and slow decay time constants of the sodium signal, which plays a role in the TSC quantification, still has to be done with a UTE sequence. Moreover, the quantification of sodium concentration is more accurate with the UTE protocol for small sodium concentrations (<20 mmol).