Purpose We aim to determine an advantageous approach for the acceleration of high spatial resolution 3D cardiac T2 relaxometry data by comparing the performance of different undersampling patterns and reconstruction methods over a range of acceleration rates. Methods Multi-volume 3D high-resolution cardiac images were acquired fully and undersampled retrospectively using 1) optimal CAIPIRINHA and 2) a variable density random (VDR) sampling. Data were reconstructed using 1) multi-volume sensitivity encoding (SENSE), 2) joint-sparsity SENSE and 3) model-based SENSE. Four metrics were calculated on 3 naïve swine and 8 normal human subjects over a whole left-ventricular region of interest: root-mean-square error (RMSE) of image signal intensity, RMSE of T2, the bias of mean T2, and standard deviation (SD) of T2. Fully sampled data and volume-by-volume SENSE with standard equally spaced undersampling were used as references. The Jaccard index calculated from one swine with acute myocardial infarction (MI) was used to demonstrate preservation of segmentation of edematous tissues with elevated T2. Results In naïve swine and normal human subjects, all methods had similar performance when the net reduction factor (Rnet) <2.5. VDR sampling with model-based SENSE showed the lowest RMSEs (10.5%-14.2%) and SDs (+1.7–2.4 ms) of T2 when Rnet>2.5, while VDR sampling with the joint-sparsity SENSE had the lowest bias of mean T2 (0.0–1.1ms) when Rnet>3. The RMSEs of parametric T2 values (9.2%-24.6%) were larger than for image signal intensities (5.2%-18.4%). In the swine with MI, VDR sampling with either joint-sparsity or model-based SENSE showed consistently higher Jaccard index for all Rnet (0.71–0.50) than volume-by-volume SENSE (0.68–0.30). Conclusions Retrospective exploration of undersampling and reconstruction in 3D whole-heart T2 parametric mapping revealed that maps were more sensitive to undersampling than images, presenting a more stringent limiting factor on Rnet. The combination of VDR sampling patterns with model-based or joint-sparsity SENSE reconstructions were more robust for Rnet>3.
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