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Chapter 17

17-01
Introduction

17-02
Field Perturbations

Local Inhomogeneities
Susceptibility
17-03
Radiofrequency and Gradient Artifacts

Slice Profile
Multiple Spin-Echo
Line Artifacts
17-04
Motion and Flow Artifacts

Respiratory Motion
Cardiac Motion
Flow Artifacts
17-05
Signal Processing and
Signal Mapping

Chemical-Shift
Black Boundary
Truncation
Aliasing
Quadrature Artifacts
k-Space Artifacts


17-05 Signal Processing and Signal Mapping Artifacts

17-05-01 Chemical Shift Artifacts

The chemical-shift artifact is caused by the difference in resonance frequency experienced by protons in different chemical environments. Protons contained in fat and water environments are separated by 3.5 ppm. Both the frequency and slice-encoding processes use frequency information. The signals from fat and water protons at the same position will result in different frequencies and therefore a relative shift of one of the signal components (Figure 11-02 and Figure 17-11). Since this is a frequency-dependent artifact, the effect will be more pronounced at higher fields, with displacements of several pixels being visible in the readout direction. The artifact can be reduced by using stronger gradients, but this has the unfortunate side effect of decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio.

Figure 17-11:
High field strength (1.5 T) MR images showing chemical shift artifacts in the readout direction, which is oriented vertically in the image. The chemical-shift artifact is visible as a black rim between fat and muscle.

The problem can be overcome by suppressing one or other of the components prior to collecting each line of data. This can be done either by using presaturation techniques (which require good static field homogeneity) [⇒ Femlee], or by using one of a number of add-subtract schemes (which increase the imaging time) [⇒ Dixon, ⇒ Szumowski].

As we have seen in Chapter 11, in gradient-echo studies, changes in the echo time lead to changes in the relative phases of the fat and water components of the signal. This can be used to change the contrast in the image or as the basis of a fat-suppression scheme [⇒ Williams].


17-05-02 Black Boundary Artifacts

Sometimes well-defined black contours following anatomical structures are seen. These artifacts are another class of chemical-shift artifacts. Pulse sequences prone to such artifacts are inversion-recovery and gradient-echo sequences. Figure 17-12 is an example of a GRE sequence of the abdomen.

Figure 17-12:
Black boundary artifacts in the abdomen. Gradient-echo sequence with an echo time of 16 ms.

The water and fat signals can be in-phase or out-of-phase. This was explained for the fat-suppression technique in Chapter 11. If this happens accidentally in volume elements with partial volume effects between water-rich and lipid-rich organs, the signal disappears and artifactual contours are seen. To avoid these contours, in-phase echo times must be used Figure 11-03. Alternatively, the examination should be performed with SE sequences whose 180° pulses refocus the phase shifts.


17-05-03 Truncation Artifacts

The truncation artifact is also known as ringing or Gibbs artifact. It appears as parallel striations, close to interfaces between tissues with different signal intensities, such as fat-muscle or CSF-spinal cord. Because these lines mimic regular structures, they can present interpretation problems if they are not recognized as artifacts.

Truncation artifacts are particularly severe when small image matrices are used and can be reduced by simply using a larger image matrix. Oversampling, while having no effect on the intensity of the truncation artifacts, does reduce their spacing which often results in the artifact becoming blurred and imperceptible.

Truncation artifacts are most commonly seen in the phase-encoding direction since increasing the matrix in this direction results in an undesirable increase in scan time. A combination of suitable scan orientation and increasing the data matrix in the frequency-encoding direction usually reduces the artifact to a tolerable level (Figure 17-13). These artifacts can also be reduced by applying a low pass filter; but as with all filtering the whole image, and not just the artifact, will be affected.


Figure 17-13:
Truncation (also: Gibbs, ringing) artifacts.
Left: (a) 60% acquisition with artifacts. (b): 80% acquisition, no artifacts visible.
Right: Truncation artifact mimicking syringomyelia. (c) T1-weighted, (d) T2-weighted image.
As shown in images a and b, the reduction in such artifacts is achieved by increasing the matrix size from, e.g., 128×128 to 256×256, or by increasing the percentage of phase-encoding profiles.


17-05-04 Aliasing Artifacts

Akiasing artifacts are also known as backfolding, foldover, phase wrapping, and wrap around artifacts. Aliasing causes data which lie outside the specified field-of-view to be wrapped back into the image. It can occur in both the phase- and frequency-encoding directions.

In the frequency-encoding direction the artifact results from the presence of signals with too high a frequency being mispositioned. According to the Nyquist theorem, frequencies must be sampled at least twice per cycle in order to reproduce them accurately.

Depending on the detection scheme used, the data can be folded back into the image on the same or on the opposite side. These high-frequency signals can be removed with a filter, but the response of such a filter will not exactly match the desired frequency range (the image bandwidth), leading to some artifact still being present or to a loss of signal at the edges of the image. This problem can be overcome by doubling the amount of data collected (oversampling), either by doubling the sampling rate to the critical sampling frequency (Nyquist frequency) or by doubling the acquisition time. The latter scheme has the advantage of also improving the signal-to-noise ratio by √2.

We can then apply a filter which will remove all frequencies outside of the new image bandwidth but which will have no effect on the frequencies which correspond to the desired field-of-view (Figure 17-14). After the Fourier transformation the outer quadrants of the oversampled data are discarded, leaving us with the original field-of-view and no artifacts (Figure 17-15).


Figure 17-14 (left):
Relation between the filter (top), the image frequencies for normal sampling (middle), and oversampling (bottom).

Figure 17-15 (right):
Image of a kiwi fruit: (left) normal sampling, (right) result of oversampling. In both cases, the frequency gradient was orientated vertically. In the left-hand image aliasing of signal originating from outside the specified field-of-view results in the artifact visible at the bottom of the image (red arrow).


In the phase-encoding direction aliasing results in signal from outside the field-of-view being folded back into the image on the opposite side (Figure 17-16), because the two positions will produce identical phases.


Figure 17-16:
Backfolding artifact resulting from the sample being larger than the field of view in the phase-encoding direction, which is orientated left-right in this example.


Oversampling can also be applied to the phase-encoding direction, but will double the imaging time (since twice as many phase-encoding steps are required) and therefore is little used. The usual practical solution is to orientate the phase-encoding direction in the image in such a way that no anatomical structures extend beyond the image boundaries in this direction. If this is not possible, a surface coil can be used to limit the volume from which the signal is obtained. This reduces or eliminates the problem. For 3D imaging, the backfolding can occur in both of the phase-encoded directions.

Aliasing as a k-space artifact: cf. Figure 17-18.


17-05-05 Quadrature Artifacts

The magnetic resonance signal is detected using a receiver which has two channels, with the reference signal to the second channel being phase-shifted by exactly 90° with respect to the reference used for the first channel. Any maladjustment of this phase-shift results in a ghost image being observed, which is rotated about both the x- and y-axes with respect to the main image (Figure 17-17). This can be eliminated by adjusting the phase and gain of the receiver, which is most easily done by trying to minimize the quadrature peak in a transformed, off-resonance signal.

Figure 17-17:
Quadrature artifact resulting from an incorrectly adjusted receiver.


17-05-06 k-Space Artifacts

There are additional artifacts connected to k-space, e.g. from bad data points or spikes [⇒ Mezrich]. Two of them are shown in Figure 17-18 and Figure 17-19.

Figure 17-18:
k-Space artifacts: Aliasing or wrap-around artifact.

Figure 17-19:
k-Space artifacts: Radiofrequency feed-through artifact.


Table 17-01 summarizes the most common artifacts and their remedies. Artifacts caused by defective components, malfunctions of the imaging system, or artifacts connected to the equipment of specific manufacturers might be different from the common artifacts covered in this chapter [⇒ Henkelman, ⇒ Johnson].


Table 17-01:
Image artifacts and remedies. Modified after ⇒ Henkelman and ⇒ Johnson.



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