Prospective cardiac gating during MRI is hampered by electromagnetic induction from the rapidly switched imaging gradients into the ECG detection circuit. This is particularly challenging in small animal MRI, as higher heart rates combined with a smaller myocardial mass render routine ECG detection challenging. We have developed an open-hardware system that enables continuously running MRI scans to be performed in conjunction with cardio-respiratory gating such that the relaxation-weighted steady state magnetisation is maintained throughout the scan. This requires that the R-wave must be detected reliably even in the presence of rapidly switching gradients, and that data previously acquired that were corrupted by respiratory motion re-acquired. The accurately maintained steady-state magnetisation leads to an improvement in image quality and removes alterations in intensity that may otherwise occur throughout the cardiac cycle and impact upon automated image analysis. We describe the hardware required to enable this and demonstrate its application and robust performance using prospectively cardio-respiratory gated CINE imaging that is operated at a single, constant TR. Schematics, technical drawings, component listing and assembly instructions are made publicly available.
Magn Reson Imaging
CINE, Cardiac imaging, Prospective gating, Steady state