Rotating Frame Relaxation Times for Off-Resonant MRI Pulses

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an important imaging modality, since it can create high-resolution cross-sectional images of the human body. In MRI scanners, the nuclear spin magnetization is excited using radio-frequency pulses. Images are created based on the time-evolution of this magnetization, which is characterized by relaxation times (T1,T2,T1ρ,…). These relaxation times change from tissue to tissue, and between healthy and diseased tissue.

Rotating frame (T1ρ) relaxation measurements are a promising technique for assessing slow molecular interactions in tissue. This has applications in articular cartilage imaging, and cardiac imaging without contrast agent injection. T1ρ measurements require continuous application of an electromagnetic excitation field. Variations of both the main magnetic field and the excitation field strength cause this excitation to be off-resonant. This in turn leads to contrast loss in the final images.

Adiabatic pulses, whose orientation changes slowly in time, are resistant to these off-resonance effects. Their effectiveness is dependent on their parameters, such as the peak sharpness β or the frequency modulation amplitude A. Conventional optimization techniques for these parameters neglect off-resonance effects.

In this project Redfield theory was used to create a pulse optimization algorithm that can take this off-resonance behaviour into account.