Perfusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a promising non-invasive technique providing insights regarding the brain's microvascular architecture in vivo. The scalar perfusion metrics can be used for quantitative diagnostics of various brain abnormalities, in particular, in the stroke cases and tumours. However, conventional MRI-based perfusion approaches such as dynamic contrast-enhanced perfusion imaging or arterial spin labelling have a few weaknesses, for instance, contrast agent deposition, low signal-to-noise ratio, limited temporal and spatial resolution, and specific absorption rate constraints. As an alternative, the intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) approach exploits an extension of diffusion MRI in order to estimate perfusion parameters in the human brain. Application of IVIM imaging at ultra-high field MRI might employ the advantage of a higher signal-to-noise ratio, and thereby the use of higher spatial and temporal resolutions.
In the present work, we demonstrate an application of recently developed isotropic diffusion weighted sequences to the evaluation of IVIM parameters at an ultra-high 7T field. The used sequence exhibits high immunity to image degrading factors and allows one to acquire the data in a fast and efficient way. Utilising the bi-exponential fitting model of the signal attenuation, we performed an extensive analysis of the IVIM scalar metrics obtained by a isotropic diffusion weighted sequence in vivo and compared results with a conventional pulsed gradient sequence at 7T. In order to evaluate a possible metric bias originating from blood flows, we additionally used a truncated b-value protocol (b-values from 100 to 200 s/mm2 with the step 20 s/mm2) accompanied to the full range (b-values from 0 to 200 s/mm2). The IVIM scalar metrics have been assessed and analysed together with a large and middle vessel density atlas of the human brain. We found that the diffusion coefficients and perfusion fractions of the voxels consisting of large and middle vessels have higher values in contrast to other tissues. Additionally, we did not find a strong dependence of the IVIM metrics on the density values of the vessel atlas. Perspectives and limitations of the developed isotropic diffusion weighted perfusion are presented and discussed.
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