PURPOSE - To measure the transverse relaxation time T* in healthy human cervical spinal cord gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) at 3T.
METHODS - Thirty healthy volunteers were recruited. Axial images were acquired using an averaged multi-echo gradient-echo (mFFE) T*-weighted sequence with 5 echoes. We used the signal equation for an mFFE sequence with constant dephasing gradients after each echo to jointly estimate the spin density and T* for each voxel.
RESULTS - No global difference in T* was observed between all GM (41.3 ± 5.6 ms) and all WM (39.8 ± 5.4 ms). No significant differences were observed between left (43.2 ± 6.8 ms) and right (43.4 ± 5.5 ms) ventral GM, left (38.3 ± 6.1 ms) and right (38.6 ± 6.5 ms) dorsal GM, and left (39.4 ± 5.8 ms) and right (40.3 ± 5.8 ms) lateral WM. However, significant regional differences were observed between ventral (43.4 ± 5.7 ms) and dorsal (38.4 ± 6.0 ms) GM (p < 0.05), as well as between ventral (42.9 ± 6.5 ms) and dorsal (37.9 ± 6.2 ms) WM (p < 0.05). In analyses across slices, inferior T* was longer than superior T* in GM (44.7 ms vs. 40.1 ms; p < 0.01) and in WM (41.8 ms vs. 35.9 ms; p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS - Significant differences in T* are observed between ventral and dorsal GM, ventral and dorsal WM, and superior and inferior GM and WM. There is no evidence for bilateral asymmetry in T* in the healthy cord. These values of T* in the spinal cord are notably lower than most reported values of T* in the cortex.
© 2019 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.