Background: The purpose of this study was to establish the feasibility of three-dimensional (3D) balanced steady-state-free-precession (bSSFP) myocardial perfusion cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) at 3T using local RF shimming with dual-source RF transmission, and to compare it with spoiled gradient echo (TGRE) acquisition.
Methods: Dynamic contrast-enhanced 3D bSSFP perfusion imaging was performed on a 3T MRI scanner equipped with dual-source RF transmission technology. Images were reconstructed using k-space and time broad-use linear acquisition speed-up technique (k-t BLAST) and compartment based principle component analysis (k-t PCA).
Results: In phantoms and volunteers, local RF shimming with dual source RF transmission significantly improved B1 field homogeneity compared with single source transmission (P = 0.01). 3D bSSFP showed improved signal-to-noise, contrast-to-noise and signal homogeneity compared with 3D TGRE (29.8 vs 26.9, P = 0.045; 23.2 vs 21.6, P = 0.049; 14.9% vs 12.4%, p = 0.002, respectively). Image quality was similar between bSSFP and TGRE but there were more dark rim artefacts with bSSFP. k-t PCA reconstruction reduced artefacts for both sequences compared with k-t BLAST. In a subset of five patients, both methods correctly identified those with coronary artery disease.
Conclusion: Three-dimensional bSSFP myocardial perfusion CMR using local RF shimming with dual source parallel RF transmission at 3T is feasible and improves signal characteristics compared with TGRE. Image artefact remains an important limitation of bSSFP imaging at 3T but can be reduced with k-t PCA.