TU-H-206-07: Assessment of Geometric Distortion in EPI with a SPAMM Tagged Acquisition




Echo planar imaging (EPI) is known to exhibit gross geometric distortion caused by multiple factors, including B0 inhomgeneity and transient eddy currents. However, diffusion weighted (DW) EPI has become indispensable for diagnosis and therapy assessment. We propose a methodology for quantifying distortion in EPI sequences that does not require the use of dedicated spatial accuracy phantoms, enabling flexibility in phantom design for QA of distortion effects in EPI protocols.


The proposed methodology utilizes a saturation technique known as Spatial Modulation of Magnetization (SPAMM) that tags the imaging subject with saturated grid lines. Originally intended for tracking cardiac motion, these grids are applied to assess differences between diffusion weighting directions and b-values, or against a more geometrically robust sequence such as fast spin echo (FSE). The saturation preparation sequence consists of binomially weighted (e.g. 1-3-3-1) pulses interleaved with gradient blips along the frequency encode direction, followed by the same sequence with gradient blips in the phase encode direction. Three phantoms were assessed with these sequences: a spherical head-sized phantom, a large shimming phantom, and a modified PET ACR phantom that included compartments of water, air, oil, and Teflon. Each phantom was acquired with three sequences using parameters from a clinically appropriate protocol (22 cm head or 46 cm abdomen): a conventional DW-EPI sequence (3 DW directions), and both the DW-EPI and FSE sequences with tagging. Differences in grid locations were visualized with minimum intensity projection between images, and measured using intersecting locations on the grids.


Grid lines were clearly visualized on tagged images and enabled quantification of distortions. Maximum eddy current induced errors of 10.8 to 14.8 mm were observed in areas away from isocenter with DW gradients applied in various directions.


SPAMM tagging provides a promising mechanism for assessing spatial distribution of distortion in EPI sequences.