Ultrashort echotime (UTE) sequences aim to improve the signal yield in pulmonary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We demonstrate the initial results of spiral 3-dimensional (3D) UTE-MRI for combined morphologic and functional imaging in pediatric patients.
Seven pediatric patients with pulmonary abnormalities were included in this observational, prospective, single-center study, with the patients having the following conditions: cystic fibrosis (CF) with middle lobe atelectasis, CF with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia, air trapping, congenital lobar overinflation, congenital pulmonary airway malformation, and pulmonary hamartoma.
Patients were scanned during breath-hold in 5 breathing states on a 3-Tesla system using a prototypical 3D stack-of-spirals UTE sequence. Ventilation maps and signal intensity maps were calculated. Morphologic images, ventilation-weighted maps, and signal intensity maps of the lungs of each patient were assessed intraindividually and compared with reference examinations.
With a scan time of ∼15 seconds per breathing state, 3D UTE-MRI allowed for sufficient imaging of both “plus” pathologies (atelectasis, inflammatory consolidation, and pulmonary hamartoma) and “minus” pathologies (congenital lobar overinflation, congenital pulmonary airway malformation, and air trapping). Color-coded maps of normalized signal intensity and ventilation increased diagnostic confidence, particularly with regard to “minus” pathologies. UTE-MRI detected new atelectasis in an asymptomatic CF patient, allowing for rapid and successful therapy initiation, and it was able to reproduce atelectasis and hamartoma known from multidetector computed tomography and to monitor a patient with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
3D UTE-MRI using a stack-of-spirals trajectory enables combined morphologic and functional imaging of the lungs within ~115 second acquisition time and might be suitable for monitoring a wide spectrum of pulmonary diseases.