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On the origin of apparent low tissue signals in balanced SSFP


Scheffler,  K
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bieri, O., & Scheffler, K. (2006). On the origin of apparent low tissue signals in balanced SSFP. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 56(5), 1067-1074. doi:10.1002/mrm.21056.

Balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) has become increasingly important in clinical applications. Its signal properties have been investigated over several years by many groups, and various critical factors for bSSFP signal intensity and stability, such as off-resonances, flow, and eddy currents, have been identified. It is generally accepted that bSSFP signal intensity is a function of relaxation times, excitation angles, and spin densities only. While this is true for simple phantoms, it appears that signals from tissues are significantly less intense than predicted by theory. This work demonstrates that the molecular origin of this apparent signal reduction is due to on-resonance magnetization transfer (MT). High flip angles in combination with very short repetition times (TRs), as commonly used for bSSFP, lead to a considerable saturation in the fraction of macromolecular (MM) pool protons. As a result, bSSFP signal is strongly attenuated by up to a factor of 2 in the human brain compared to the signal expected from theory.