Joint correction of Nyquist artifact and minuscule motion-induced aliasing artifact in interleaved diffusion weighted EPI data using a composite two-dimensional phase correction procedure.
Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) obtained with interleaved echo-planar imaging (EPI) pulse sequence has great potential of characterizing brain tissue properties at high spatial-resolution. However, interleaved EPI based DWI data may be corrupted by various types of aliasing artifacts. First, inconsistencies in k-space data obtained with opposite readout gradient polarities result in Nyquist artifact, which is usually reduced with 1D phase correction in post-processing. When there exist eddy current cross terms (e.g., in oblique-plane EPI), 2D phase correction is needed to effectively reduce Nyquist artifact. Second, minuscule motion induced phase inconsistencies in interleaved DWI scans result in image-domain aliasing artifact, which can be removed with reconstruction procedures that take shot-to-shot phase variations into consideration. In existing interleaved DWI reconstruction procedures, Nyquist artifact and minuscule motion-induced aliasing artifact are typically removed subsequently in two stages. Although the two-stage phase correction generally performs well for non-oblique plane EPI data obtained from well-calibrated system, the residual artifacts may still be pronounced in oblique-plane EPI data or when there exist eddy current cross terms. To address this challenge, here we report a new composite 2D phase correction procedure, which effective removes Nyquist artifact and minuscule motion induced aliasing artifact jointly in a single step. Our experimental results demonstrate that the new 2D phase correction method can much more effectively reduce artifacts in interleaved EPI based DWI data as compared with the existing two-stage artifact correction procedures. The new method robustly enables high-resolution DWI, and should prove highly valuable for clinical uses and research studies of DWI.
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