Arterial spin labeling (ASL) can be used to measure perfusion without the use of contrast agents. Due to the small volume fraction of blood vessels compared to tissue in the human brain (typ. 3-5%) ASL techniques have an intrinsically low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). In this publication, evidence is presented that the SNR can be improved by using arterial spin labeling in combination with single-shot 3D readout techniques. Specifically, a single-shot 3D-GRASE sequence is presented, which yields a 2.8-fold increase in SNR compared to 2D EPI at the same nominal resolution. Up to 18 slices can be acquired in 2 min with an SNR of 10 or more for gray matter perfusion. A method is proposed to increase the reliability of perfusion quantification using QUIPSS II derivates by acquiring low-resolution maps of the bolus arrival time, which allows differentiation between lack of perfusion and delayed arrival of the labeled blood. For arterial spin labeling, single-shot 3D imaging techniques are optimal in terms of efficiency and might prove beneficial to improve reliability of perfusion quantitation in a clinical setup.
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