Existing cine imaging techniques rely on balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) or spoiled gradient-echo readouts, each of which has limitations. For instance, with bSSFP, artifacts occur from rapid through-plane flow and off-resonance effects. We hypothesized that a prototype cine technique, radial fast interrupted steady-state (FISS), could overcome these limitations. The technique was compared with standard cine bSSFP for cardiac function, coronary artery conspicuity, and aortic valve morphology. Given its advantageous properties, we further hypothesized that the cine FISS technique, in combination with arterial spin labeling (ASL), could provide an alternative to phase contrast for visualizing in-plane flow patterns within the aorta and branch vessels.
The study was IRB-approved and subjects provided consent. Breath-hold cine FISS and bSSFP were acquired using similar imaging parameters. There was no significant difference in biplane left ventricular ejection fraction or cardiac image quality between the two techniques. Compared with cine bSSFP, cine FISS demonstrated a marked decrease in fat signal which improved conspicuity of the coronary arteries, while suppression of through-plane flow artifact on thin-slice cine FISS images improved visualization of the aortic valve. Banding artifacts in the subcutaneous tissues were reduced. In healthy subjects, dynamic flow patterns were well visualized in the aorta, coronary and renal arteries using cine FISS ASL, even when the slice was substantially thicker than the vessel diameter.
Cine FISS demonstrates several benefits for cardiovascular imaging compared with cine bSSFP, including better suppression of fat signal and reduced artifacts from through-plane flow and off-resonance effects. The main drawback is a slight (~ 20%) decrease in temporal resolution. In addition, preliminary results suggest that cine FISS ASL provides a potential alternative to phase contrast techniques for in-plane flow quantification, while enabling an efficient, visually-appealing, semi-projective display of blood flow patterns throughout the course of an artery and its branches.