MRI of tissues with short coherence lifetimes T2 or T2* can be performed efficiently using zero echo time (ZTE) techniques such as algebraic ZTE, pointwise encoding time reduction with radial acquisition (PETRA), and water- and fat-suppressed proton projection MRI (WASPI). They share the principal challenge of recovering data in central k-space missed due to an initial radiofrequency dead time. The purpose of this study was to compare the three techniques directly, with a particular focus on their behavior in the presence of ultra-short-lived spins.
The most direct comparison was enabled by aligning acquisition and reconstruction strategies of the three techniques. Image quality and short- T2* performance were investigated using point spread functions, 3D simulations, and imaging of phantom and bone samples with short (<1 ms) and ultra-short (<100 μs) T2*.
Algebraic ZTE offers favorable properties but is limited to k-space gaps up to approximately three Nyquist dwells. At larger gaps, PETRA enables robust imaging with little compromise in image quality, whereas WASPI may be prone to artifacts from ultra-short T2* species.
For small k-space gaps (<4 dwells) and T2* much larger than the dead time, all techniques enable artifact-free short- T2* MRI. However, if these requirements are not fulfilled careful consideration is needed and PETRA will generally achieve better image quality. Magn Reson Med 79:2036-2045, 2018. © 2017 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.