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Keywords:

  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • super-resolution;
  • reconstruction;
  • image quality

Abstract

Improving the resolution in magnetic resonance imaging comes at the cost of either lower signal-to-noise ratio, longer acquisition time or both. This study investigates whether so-called super-resolution reconstruction methods can increase the resolution in the slice selection direction and, as such, are a viable alternative to direct high-resolution acquisition in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio and acquisition time trade-offs. The performance of six super-resolution reconstruction methods and direct high-resolution acquisitions was compared with respect to these trade-offs. The methods are based on iterative back-projection, algebraic reconstruction, and regularized least squares. The algorithms were applied to low-resolution data sets within which the images were rotated relative to each other. Quantitative experiments involved a computational phantom and a physical phantom containing structures of known dimensions. To visually validate the quantitative evaluations, qualitative experiments were performed, in which images of three different subjects (a phantom, an ex vivo rat knee, and a postmortem mouse) were acquired with different magnetic resonance imaging scanners. The results show that super-resolution reconstruction can indeed improve the resolution, signal-to-noise ratio and acquisition time trade-offs compared with direct high-resolution acquisition. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.