Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) is a novel contrast mechanism and it is gaining increasing popularity as many promising applications have been proposed and investigated. Fast and quantitative CEST imaging techniques are further needed in order to increase the applicability of CEST for clinical use as well as to derive quantitative physiological and biological information. Steady-state methods for fast CEST imaging have been reported recently. Here, we observe that an extreme case of these methods is a balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) sequence. The bSSFP in itself is sensitive to the exchange processes; hence, no additional saturation or preparation is needed for CEST-like data acquisition. The bSSFP experiment can be regarded as observation during saturation, without separate saturation and acquisition modules as used in standard CEST and similar experiments. One of the differences from standard CEST methods is that the bSSFP spectrum is an XY-spectrum not a Z-spectrum. As the first proof-of-principle step, we have implemented the steady-state bSSFP sequence for chemical exchange detection (bSSFPX) and verified its feasibility in phantom studies. These studies have shown that bSSFPX can achieve exchange-mediated contrast comparable to the standard CEST experiment. Therefore, the bSSFPX method has a potential for fast and quantitative CEST data acquisition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics