Improving the image quality of 3D FLAIR with a spiral MRI technique

Zhiqiang Li, James G. Pipe, Melvyn B. Ooi, Michael Kuwabara, John P. Karis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) nulls the CSF signal and is widely used in neuro MRI exams. A 3D scan can provide high SNR, contiguous coverage, and reduced sensitivity to through-plane CSF flow. In this work, a 3D spiral FLAIR technique is proposed to improve the image quality of conventional 3D Cartesian FLAIR. Methods: The 3D spiral FLAIR sequence incorporated a spiral-in/out readout to preserve higher scan efficiency and eliminate off resonance-induced artifacts observed with a commonly implemented spiral-out readout, a compensation approach to minimize phase errors due to the concomitant fields accompanying the spiral gradient, and an adapted variable flip angle scheme to preserve scan efficiency and maintain a long and stable echo train. 3D Cartesian and spiral FLAIR (~6 min each) were acquired on a 3 Tesla scanner from 6 subjects (age range: 31-64 years; mean: 39.5). Two neuroradiologists rated the images in a blinded fashion on a 5-point scale. The noise performance was assessed quantitatively. Results: Compared to 3D Cartesian FLAIR, 3D spiral FLAIR exhibits greater reduction of artifacts from CSF, especially anterior to the brain stem (rated better in 4 cases), artifacts attributed to blood/flow in the deep brain (better or much better in all 6 cases), and superior overall image quality (much better in 5 cases) despite residual susceptibility artifacts near the nasal cavity. Quantitative assessment demonstrates ~1.5× higher average SNR than Cartesian data. Conclusion: 3D spiral FLAIR achieves higher SNR, reduced CSF, and blood/flow artifacts, providing an alternative to 3D Cartesian FLAIR for neurological exams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-177
Number of pages8
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • 3D
  • rapid MRI
  • spiral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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