Free-breathing real-time (RT) imaging can be used in patients with difficulty in breath-holding; however, RT cine imaging typically experiences poor image quality compared with segmented cine imaging because of low resolution. Here, we validate a novel unsupervised motion-corrected (MOCO) reconstruction technique for free-breathing RT cardiac images, called MOCO-RT. Motion-corrected RT uses elastic image registration to generate a single heartbeat of high-quality data from a free-breathing RT acquisition.
Materials and Methods
Segmented balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) cine images and free-breathing RT images (Cartesian, TGRAPPA factor 4) were acquired with the same spatial/temporal resolution in 40 patients using clinical 1.5 T magnetic resonance scanners. The respiratory cycle was estimated using the reconstructed RT images, and nonrigid unsupervised motion correction was applied to eliminate breathing motion. Conventional segmented RT and MOCO-RT single-heartbeat cine images were analyzed to evaluate left ventricular (LV) function and volume measurements. Two radiologists scored images for overall image quality, artifact, noise, and wall motion abnormalities. Intraclass correlation coefficient was used to assess the reliability of MOCO-RT measurement.
Intraclass correlation coefficient showed excellent reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient ≥ 0.95) of MOCO-RT with segmented cine in measuring LV function, mass, and volume. Comparison of the qualitative ratings indicated comparable image quality for MOCO-RT (4.80 ± 0.35) with segmented cine (4.45 ± 0.88, P = 0.215) and significantly higher than conventional RT techniques (3.51 ± 0.41, P < 0.001). Artifact and noise ratings for MOCO-RT (1.11 ± 0.26 and 1.08 ± 0.19) and segmented cine (1.51 ± 0.90, P = 0.088 and 1.23 ± 0.45, P = 0.182) were not different. Wall motion abnormality ratings were comparable among different techniques (P = 0.96).
The MOCO-RT technique can be used to process conventional free-breathing RT cine images and provides comparable quantitative assessment of LV function and volume measurements to conventional segmented cine imaging while providing improved image quality and less artifact and noise. The free-breathing MOCO-RT reconstruction method may have considerable clinical utility in cardiac magnetic resonance imaging for patients with difficulty breath-holding.