BACKGROUND - The high value of the specific absorption rate (SAR) of radio-frequency (RF) energy arising from the series of RF refocusing pulses in T2-weighted (T2-w) turbo spin echo (TSE) MRI hampers its clinical application at 7.0 Tesla (7T). T2-w gradient and spin echo (GRASE) uses the speed from gradient refocusing in combination with the chemical-shift/static magnetic field (B0) inhomogeneity insensitivity from spin-echo refocusing to acquire T2-w images with a limited number of refocusing RF pulses, thus reducing SAR.
OBJECTIVES - To investigate whether low SAR T2-w GRASE could replace T2-w TSE in detecting white matter (WM) disease in MS patients imaged at 7T.
METHODS - The .7 mm3 isotropic T2-w TSE and T2-w GRASE images with variable echo times (TEs) and echo planar imaging (EPI) factors were obtained on a 7T scanner from postmortem samples of MS brains. These samples were derived from brains of 3 female MS patients. WM lesions (WM-Ls) and normal-appearing WM (NAWM) signal intensity, WM-Ls/NAWM contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) and MRI/myelin staining sections comparisons were obtained.
RESULTS - GRASE sequences with EPI factor/TE = 3/50 and 3/75 ms were comparable to the SE technique for measures of CNR in WM-Ls and NAWM and for detection of WM-Ls. In all sequences, however, identification of areas with remyelination, Wallerian degeneration, and gray matter demyelination, as depicted by myelin staining, was not possible.
CONCLUSIONS - T2-w GRASE images may replace T2-w TSE for clinical use. However, even at 7T, both sequences fail in detecting and characterizing MS disease beyond visible WM-Ls.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Society of Neuroimaging.