Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is a phase-contrast technique that can spatially map shear stiffness within tissue-like materials. To date, however, MRE of the lung has been too technically challenging-primarily because of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) limitations and phase instability. We describe an approach in which shear wave propagation is not encoded into the phase of the MR signal of a material, but rather from the signal arising from a polarized noble gas encapsulated within. To determine the feasibility of the approach, three experiments were performed. First, to establish whether shear wave propagation within lung parenchyma can be visualized with phase-contrast MR techniques, MRE was performed on excised porcine lungs inflated with room air. Second, a phantom consisting of open-cell foam filled with thermally polarized 3He gas was imaged with MRE to determine whether shear wave propagation can be encoded by the gas. Third, preliminary evidence of the feasibility of MRE in vivo was obtained by using a longitudinal driver on the chest of a normal volunteer to generate shear waves in the lung. The results suggest that MRE in combination with hyperpolarized noble gases is potentially useful for noninvasively assessing the regional elastic properties of lung parenchyma, and merits further investigation.
- Lung parenchyma
- Magnetic resonance elastography
- Phase contrast
- Shear stiffness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging