KEYWORDS: Signal to noise ratio, Diffusion weighted imaging, Data modeling, Magnetic resonance imaging, Diffusion, Image resolution, Distortion, Computer programming, Data acquisition, Image quality standards
Multi-shot echo planar imaging (msEPI) is a promising approach to achieve high in-plane resolution with high sampling efficiency and low T<sub>2</sub>* blurring. However, due to the geometric distortion, shot-to-shot phase variations and potential subject motion, msEPI continues to be a challenge in MRI. In this work, we introduce acquisition and reconstruction strategies for robust, high-quality msEPI without phase navigators. We propose Blip Up-Down Acquisition (BUDA) using interleaved blip-up and -down phase encoding, and incorporate B<sub>0</sub> forward-modeling into Hankel structured low-rank model to enable distortion- and navigator-free msEPI. We improve the acquisition efficiency and reconstruction quality by incorporating simultaneous multi-slice acquisition and virtual-coil reconstruction into the BUDA technique. We further combine BUDA with the novel RF-encoded gSlider acquisition, dubbed “BUDA-gSlider”, to achieve rapid high isotropic resolution MRI. Deploying BUDA-gSlider with model-based reconstruction allows for distortion-free whole-brain 1mm isotropic T<sub>2</sub> mapping in ~1 minute. It also provides whole-brain 1mm isotropic diffusion imaging with high geometric fidelity and SNR efficiency. We finally incorporate sinusoidal “wave” gradients during the EPI readout to better use coil sensitivity encoding with controlled aliasing.