Reducing distortions in echo-planar breast imaging at ultrahigh field with high-resolution off-resonance maps

van Rijssel, Michael J, Zijlstra, Frank, Seevinck, Peter R, Luijten, Peter R, Gilhuijs, Kenneth G A, Klomp, Dennis W J, Pluim, Josien P W


Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 82 (1), p. 425-435


Purpose: DWI is a promising modality in breast MRI, but its clinical acceptance is slow. Analysis of DWI is hampered by geometric distortion artifacts, which are caused by off-resonant spins in combination with the low phase-encoding bandwidth of the EPI sequence used. Existing correction methods assume smooth off-resonance fields, which we show to be invalid in the human breast, where high discontinuities arise at tissue interfaces. Methods: We developed a distortion correction method that incorporates high-resolution off-resonance maps to better solve for severe distortions at tissue interfaces. The method was evaluated quantitatively both ex vivo in a porcine tissue phantom and in vivo in 5 healthy volunteers. The added value of high-resolution off-resonance maps was tested using a Wilcoxon signed rank test comparing the quantitative results obtained with a low-resolution off-resonance map with those obtained with a high-resolution map. Results: Distortion correction using low-resolution off-resonance maps corrected most of the distortions, as expected. Still, all quantitative comparison metrics showed increased conformity between the corrected EPI images and a high-bandwidth reference scan for both the ex vivo and in vivo experiments. All metrics showed a significant improvement when a high-resolution off-resonance map was used (P < 0.05), in particular at tissue boundaries. Conclusion: The use of off-resonance maps of a resolution higher than EPI scans significantly improves upon existing distortion correction techniques, specifically by superior correction at glandular tissue boundaries.