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J R Soc Interface. 2006 Jun 22;3(8):415-27.

Extending the dynamic range of phase contrast magnetic resonance velocity imaging using advanced higher-dimensional phase unwrapping algorithms.

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  • 1Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK. m.f.salfity@lboro.ac.uk


Phase contrast magnetic resonance velocity imaging is a powerful technique for quantitative in vivo blood flow measurement. Current practice normally involves restricting the sensitivity of the technique so as to avoid the problem of the measured phase being 'wrapped' onto the range -pi to +pi. However, as a result, dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio are sacrificed. Alternatively, the true phase values can be estimated by a phase unwrapping process which consists of adding integral multiples of 2pi to the measured wrapped phase values. In the presence of noise and data undersampling, the phase unwrapping problem becomes non-trivial. In this paper, we investigate the performance of three different phase unwrapping algorithms when applied to three-dimensional (two spatial axes and one time axis) phase contrast datasets. A simple one-dimensional temporal unwrapping algorithm, a more complex and robust three-dimensional unwrapping algorithm and a novel velocity encoding unwrapping algorithm which involves unwrapping along a fourth dimension (the 'velocity encoding' direction) are discussed, and results from the three are presented and compared. It is shown that compared to the traditional approach, both dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio can be increased by a factor of up to five times, which demonstrates considerable promise for a possible eventual clinical implementation. The results are also of direct relevance to users of any other technique delivering time-varying two-dimensional phase images, such as dynamic speckle interferometry and synthetic aperture radar.

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