Fetal brain tissue characterization at 1.5 T using STrategically Acquired Gradient Echo (STAGE) imaging
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OBJECTIVES: To estimate human fetal brain MRI tissue properties including apparent T1 (T1app) and apparent proton density (PDapp) by using a rapid multi-contrast acquisition protocol called STrategically Acquired Gradient Echo (STAGE) imaging. METHODS: STAGE data were collected using two flip angles (15° and 60°, with a TR = 600 ms) for 30 pregnant women at 1.5 T (15 healthy controls: gestational age (GA) range 19 + 1/7 weeks to 34 + 5/7 weeks; 11 abnormal subjects with ventriculomegaly: GA range 21 + 5/7 weeks to 31 + 5/7 weeks; 4 subjects with other abnormalities). Both T1app and PDapp maps of the fetal brain were calculated from the STAGE data. A region-of-interest-based approach was used to measure T1app and PDapp in the subplate/intermediate zone (SP/IZ), cortical plate (CP), and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the fetal brain. RESULTS: The ratios of T1appSP/IZ/T1appCP and PDappSP/IZ/PDappCP were larger than unity while T1appSP/IZ/T1appCSF and PDappSP/IZ/PDappCSF were both less than unity. CONCLUSIONS: STAGE imaging provides a potential practical approach to estimate multi-parametric properties of the human fetal brain. KEY POINTS: • STAGE is feasible in measuring fetal brain tissue properties. • Water content in cortical plate and subplate/intermediate zone approaches that of cerebrospinal fluid in early gestational ages.
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