High-resolution multi-parametric quantitative magnetic resonance imaging of the human cervical spinal cord at 7T

Aurélien Massire, Manuel Taso, Pierre Besson, Maxime Guye, Jean Philippe Ranjeva, Virginie Callot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Quantitative MRI techniques have the potential to characterize spinal cord tissue impairments occurring in various pathologies, from both microstructural and functional perspectives. By enabling very high image resolution and enhanced tissue contrast, ultra-high field imaging may offer further opportunities for such characterization. In this study, a multi-parametric high-resolution quantitative MRI protocol is proposed to characterize in vivo the human cervical spinal cord at 7T. Multi-parametric quantitative MRI acquizitions including T1, T2 * relaxometry mapping and axial diffusion MRI were performed on ten healthy volunteers with a whole-body 7T system using a commercial prototype coil-array dedicated to cervical spinal cord imaging. Automatic cord segmentation and multi-parametric data registration to spinal cord templates enabled robust regional studies within atlas-based WM tracts and GM horns at the C3 cervical level. T1 value, cross-sectional area and GM/WM ratio evolutions along the cervical cord were also reported. An original correction method for B1 +-biased T1 mapping sequence was additionally proposed and validated on phantom. As a result, relaxometry and diffusion parameters derived from high-resolution quantitative MRI acquizitions were reported at 7T for the first time. Obtained images, with unmatched resolutions compared to lower field investigations, provided exquisite anatomical details and clear delineation of the spinal cord substructures within an acquisition time of 30 min, compatible with clinical investigations. Regional statistically significant differences were highlighted between WM and GM based on T1 and T2* maps (p<10−3), as well as between sensory and motor tracts based on diffusion tensor imaging maps (p<0.05). The proposed protocol demonstrates that ultra-high field spinal cord high-resolution quantitative MRI is feasible and lays the groundwork for future clinical investigations of degenerative spinal cord pathologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-69
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroimage
Volume143
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Quantitative MRI
  • Relaxometry mapping
  • Spinal cord
  • Template-based segmentation
  • Ultra-high field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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