Images of hyperpolarized He-3 were acquired during breath-hold in four healthy volunteers with the use of an optimized 3D gradient-echo sequence. The images were compared with existing 2D gradient-echo methods. The average SNR from a 13-mm-thick slice in the peripheral lung was 1.4 times greater with 3D. In the airways the average SNR was 1.7 times greater with 3D. The higher SNR of 3D was particularly evident when regions of unimpeded gas diffusion, such as the major airways, were imaged with thin slices. This is because diffusion dephasing due to the slice-encoding gradient is minimized with a 3D sequence. The in vivo experimental findings were substantiated with experiments on phantoms of free gas, which showed more than four times the SNR with 3D compared to 2D. Theoretical simulations of the 2D and 3D k-space filters were also performed to predict the SNR and spatial resolution observed in the experimental images. (C) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
- 3D gradient echo