An optimized MP2RAGE sequence for studying both brain and cervical spinal cord in a single acquisition at 3T
- T1 mapping
- Prepared 2 Rapid Acquisition Gradient Echo
- Central Nervous System
- Cervical Spinal Cord
Magnetization Prepared 2 Rapid Acquisition Gradient Echo (MP2RAGE) is a T1 mapping technique that has been used broadly on brain and recently on cervical spinal cord (cSC). The growing interest for combined investigation of brain and SC in numerous pathologies of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and traumatic injuries, now brings about the need for optimization with regards to this specific investigation. This implies large spatial coverage with high spatial resolution and short acquisition time, high CNR and low B1+ sensitivity, as well as high reproducibility and robust post-processing tools for T1 quantification in different regions of brain and SC. In this work, a dedicated protocol (referred to as Pr-BSC) has been optimized for simultaneous brain and cSC T1 MP2RAGE acquisition at 3T. After computer simulation optimization, the protocol was applied for in vivo validation experiments and compared to previously published state of the art protocols focusing on either the brain (Pr-B) or the cSC (Pr-SC). Reproducibility and in-ROI standard deviations were assessed on healthy volunteers in the perspective of future clinical use. The mean T1 values, obtained by the Pr-BSC, in brain white, gray and deep gray matters were: (mean ± in-ROI SD) 792 ± 27 ms, 1339 ± 139 ms and 1136 ± 88 ms, respectively. In cSC, T1 values for white matter corticospinal, posterior sensory, lateral sensory and rubro/reticulospinal tracts were 902 ± 41 ms, 920 ± 35 ms, 903 ± 46 ms, 891 ± 41 ms, respectively, and 954 ± 32 ms for anterior and intermediate gray matter. The Pr-BSC protocol showed excellent agreement with previously proposed Pr-B on brain and Pr-SC on cSC, with very high inter-scan reproducibility (coefficients of variation of 0.52 ± 0.36% and 1.12 ± 0.62% on brain and cSC, respectively). This optimized protocol covering both brain and cSC with a sub-millimetric isotropic spatial resolution in one acquisition of less than 8 min, opens up great perspectives for clinical applications focusing on degenerative tissue such as encountered in MS and ALS.