OBJECTIVES: Readout-segmented echo planar imaging (rs-EPI) significantly reduces susceptibility artifacts in diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) of the breast compared to single-shot EPI but is limited by longer scan times. To compensate for this, we tested a new simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) acquisition for accelerated rs-EPI.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: After approval by the local ethics committee, eight healthy female volunteers (age, 38.9±13.1 years) underwent breast MRI at 3T. Conventional as well as two-fold (2× SMS) and three-fold (3× SMS) slice-accelerated rs-EPI sequences were acquired at b-values of 50 and 800s/mm(2). Two independent readers analyzed the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in fibroglandular breast parenchyma. The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was estimated based on the subtraction method. ADC and SNR were compared between sequences by using the Friedman test.
RESULTS: The acquisition time was 4:21min for conventional rs-EPI, 2:35min for 2× SMS rs-EPI and 1:44min for 3× SMS rs-EPI. ADC values were similar in all sequences (mean values 1.62×10(-3)mm(2)/s, p=0.99). Mean SNR was 27.7-29.6, and no significant differences were found among the sequences (p=0.83).
CONCLUSION: SMS rs-EPI yields similar ADC values and SNR compared to conventional rs-EPI at markedly reduced scan time. Thus, SMS excitation increases the clinical applicability of rs-EPI for DWI of the breast.