Implementation and prospective clinical validation of AI-based planning and shimming techniques in cardiac MRI

Masoud Edalati, Yuan Zheng, Mary P. Watkins, Junjie Chen, Liu Liu, Shuheng Zhang, Yanli Song, Samira Soleymani, Daniel Lenihan, Gregory M. Lanza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is a vital diagnostic tool in the management of cardiovascular diseases. The advent of advanced CMR technologies combined with artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to simplify imaging, reduce image acquisition time without compromising image quality (IQ), and improve magnetic field uniformity. Here, we aim to implement two AI-based deep learning techniques for automatic slice alignment and cardiac shimming and evaluate their performance in clinical cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Methods: Two deep neural networks were developed, trained, and validated on pre-acquired cardiac MRI datasets (>500 subjects) to achieve automatic slice planning and shimming (implemented in the scanner) for CMR. To examine the performance of our automated cardiac planning (EasyScan) and AI-based shim (AI shim), two prospective studies were performed subsequently. For the EasyScan validation, 10 healthy subjects underwent two identical CMR protocols: with manual cardiac planning and with AI-based EasyScan to assess protocol scan time difference and accuracy of cardiac plane prescriptions on a 1.5 T clinical MRI scanner. For the AI shim validation, a total of 20 subjects were recruited: 10 healthy and 10 cardio-oncology patients with referrals for a CMR examination. Cine images were obtained with standard cardiac volume shim and with AI shim to assess signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), overall IQ (sharpness and MR image degradation), ejection fraction (EF), and absolute wall thickening. A hybrid statistical method using of nonparametric (Wilcoxon) and parametric (t-test) assessments was employed for statistical analyses. Results: CMR protocol with AI-based plane prescriptions, EasyScan, minimized operator dependence and reduced overall scanning time by over 2 min (∼13 % faster, p < 0.001) compared to the protocol with manual cardiac planning. EasyScan plane prescriptions also demonstrated more accurate (less plane angulation errors from planes manually prescribed by a certified cardiac MRI technologist) cardiac planes than previously reported strategies. Additionally, AI shim resulted in improved B0 field homogeneity. Cine images obtained with AI shim revealed a significantly higher SNR (12.49%; p = 0.002) than those obtained with volume shim (volume shim: 32.90 ± 7.42 vs. AI shim: 37.01 ± 8.87) for the left ventricle (LV) myocardium. LV myocardium CNR was 12.48% higher for cine imaging with AI shim (149.02 ± 39.15) than volume shim (132.49 ± 33.94). Images obtained with AI shim resulted in sharper images than those obtained with volume shim (p = 0.012). The LVEF and absolute wall thickening also showed that differences exist between the two shimming methods. The LVEF by AI shim was shown to be slightly larger than LVEF by volume shim in two groups: 2.87% higher with AI shim for the healthy group and 1.70% higher with AI shim for the patient group. The LV absolute wall thickening (in mm) also showed that differences exist between shimming methods for each group with larger changes observed in the patient group (healthy: 3.31%, p = 0.234 and patient group: 7.29%, p = 0.059). Conclusions: CMR exams using EasyScan for cardiac planning demonstrated accelerated cardiac exam compared to the CMR protocol with manual cardiac planning. Improved and more uniform B0 magnetic field homogeneity also achieved using AI shim technique compared to volume shimming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-143
Number of pages15
JournalMedical physics
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

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