STEAM-DWI as a robust alternative to EPI-DWI: Evaluation in pediatric brain MRI

PLoS One. 2022 May 18;17(5):e0268523. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268523. eCollection 2022.


PURPOSE: Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) is an essential element of almost every brain MRI examination. The most widely applied DWI technique, a single-shot echo-planar imaging DWI (EPI-DWI) sequence, suffers from a high sensitivity to magnetic field inhomogeneities. As an alternative, a single-shot stimulated echo acquisition mode diffusion-weighted MRI (STEAM-DWI) has recently been re-introduced after it became significantly faster. The aim of the study was to investigate the applicability of STEAM-DWI as a substitute to EPI-DWI in a daily routine of pediatric radiology.

METHODS: Retrospectively, brain MRI examinations of 208 children with both EPI-DWI and STEAM-DWI were assessed. Visual resolution and diagnostic confidence were evaluated, the extent of susceptibility artifacts was quantified, and contrast-to-noise ratio was calculated in case of diffusion restriction. Furthermore, the correlation of apparent diffusion coefficient values between STEAM-DWI and EPI-DWI was tested.

RESULTS: STEAM-DWI was inferior to EPI-DWI in visual resolution but with higher diagnostic confidence and lower artifact size. The apparent diffusion coefficient values of both sequences demonstrated excellent correlation. The contrast-to-noise ratio of STEAM-DWI was only half of that of EPI-DWI (58% resp. 112%).

CONCLUSION: STEAM-DWI is a robust alternative to EPI-DWI when increased susceptibility artifacts are to be expected. Drawbacks are a lower contrast-to-noise ratio and poorer visual resolution.

PMID:35584126 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0268523


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