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Evaluation of proton density by magnetic resonance imaging: phantom experiments and analysis of multiple component proton transverse relaxation

G. Brix, L. Schad and W. Lorenz

Phys Med Biol, 35 (1), pp.53-66

The quantitative evaluation of proton density by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is limited as a result of non-uniformities in the intensity distribution of the images and by the fact that only part of the protons of the tissue contribute to the image signal. This study was undertaken to estimate the accuracy of proton density measurements using a standard whole-body MR imager operating at 1.5 T. First, phantom experiments were performed to examine the possibility of an intensity correction. For the test phantom the systematical errors in the computed proton densities were reduced from 5 to 1\% after correction. Secondly, proton transverse relaxation curves of biological tissues were measured in vitro on an MR spectrometer. A multi-exponential analysis of the data shows that for spin-echo times TE greater than 10 ms in total between 10 and 30\% of the protons of the tissue do not contribute to the image signal. In all tissues a proton component with a free induction decay (FID) time T2* less than 32 microseconds was observed. In the time range TE greater than 10 ms two proton components can be distinguished in muscle and fatty tissue. Finally, it will be shown that a pixel-orientated two-exponential analysis of spin-echo images leads to a much more homogeneous density image than one-exponential computation, since tissue-specific biexponentiality and partial volume effects are taken into account. As a conclusion, the hydrogen density of biological tissues can be evaluated at best with an overall error of 10\% from MR images for TE greater than 10 ms. This accuracy is insufficient for a pixel-orientated neutron therapy planning.

Contact: Dr. Frank Zöllner last modified: 22.05.2019
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