PURPOSE: Readout-segmented echo-planar imaging (rs-EPI) can provide high quality diffusion data because it is less prone to distortion and blurring artifacts than single-shot echo-planar imaging (ss-EPI), particularly at higher resolution and higher field. Readout segmentation allows shorter echo-spacing and echo train duration, resulting in reduced image distortion and blurring, respectively, in the phase-encoding direction. However, these benefits come at the expense of longer scan times because the segments are acquired in multiple repetitions times (TRs). This study shortened rs-EPI scan times by reducing the TR duration with simultaneous multislice acceleration. METHODS: The blipped-CAIPI method for slice acceleration with reduced g-factor SNR loss was incorporated into the diffusion-weighted rs-EPI sequence. The rs- and ss-EPI sequences were compared at a range of resolutions at both 3 and 7 Tesla in terms of image fidelity and diffusion postprocessing results. RESULTS: Slice-accelerated clinically useful trace-weighted images and tractography results are presented. Tractography analysis showed that the reduced artifacts in rs-EPI allowed better discrimination of tracts than ss-EPI. CONCLUSION: Slice acceleration reduces rs-EPI scan times providing a practical alternative to diffusion-weighted ss-EPI with reduced distortion and high resolution. Magn Reson Med, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Magn Reson Med
blipped-CAIPI, diffusion MRI, distortion, readout-segmented EPI, simultaneous multislice, tractography