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Advanced deep learning-based image reconstruction in lumbar spine MRI at 0.55 T - Effects on image quality and acquisition time in comparison to conventional deep learning-based reconstruction.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate an optimized deep leaning-based image post-processing technique in lumbar spine MRI at 0.55 T in terms of image quality and image acquisition time.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Lumbar spine imaging was conducted on 18 patients using a 0.55 T MRI scanner, employing conventional (CDLR) and advanced (ADLR) deep learning-based post-processing techniques. Two musculoskeletal radiologists visually evaluated the images using a 5-point Likert scale to assess image quality and resolution. Quantitative assessment in terms of signal intensities (SI) and contrast ratios was performed by region of interest measurements in different body-tissues (vertebral bone, intervertebral disc, spinal cord, cerebrospinal fluid and autochthonous back muscles) to investigate differences between CDLR and ADLR sequences.

RESULTS: The images processed with the advanced technique (ADLR) were rated superior to the conventional technique (CDLR) in terms of signal/contrast, resolution, and assessability of the spinal canal and neural foramen. The interrater agreement was moderate for signal/contrast (ICC = 0.68) and good for resolution (ICC = 0.77), but moderate for spinal canal and neuroforaminal assessability (ICC = 0.55). Quantitative assessment showed a higher contrast ratio for fluid-sensitive sequences in the ADLR images. The use of ADLR reduced image acquisition time by 44.4%, from 14:22 min to 07:59 min.

CONCLUSIONS: Advanced deep learning-based image reconstruction algorithms improve the visually perceived image quality in lumbar spine imaging at 0.55 T while simultaneously allowing to substantially decrease image acquisition times.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Advanced deep learning-based image post-processing techniques (ADLR) in lumbar spine MRI at 0.55 T significantly improves image quality while reducing image acquisition time.

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