Time-Synchronized MRI-Assessment of Respiratory Apparatus Subsystems—A Feasibility Study

Published:January 13, 2023DOI:


      The thorax (TH), the thoracic diaphragm (TD), and the abdominal wall (AW) are three sub-systems of the respiratory apparatus whose displacement motion has been well studied with the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Another sub-system, which has however received less research attention with respect to breathing, is the pelvic floor (PF). In particular, there is no study that has investigated the displacement of all four sub-systems simultaneously. Addressing this issue, it was the purpose of this feasibility study to establish a data acquisition paradigm for time-synchronous quantitative analysis of dynamic MRI data from these four major contributors to respiration and phonation (TH, TD, AW, and PF). Three healthy females were asked to breathe in and out forcefully while being recorded in a 1.5-Tesla whole body MR-scanner. Spanning a sequence of 15.12 seconds, 40 MRI data frames were acquired. Each data frame contained two slices, simultaneously documenting the mid-sagittal (TH, TD, PF) and transversal (AW) planes. The displacement motion of the four anatomical structures of interest was documented using kymographic analysis, resulting in time-varying calibrated structure displacement data. After computing the fundamental frequency of the cyclical breathing motion, the phase offsets of the TH, PF, and AW with respect to the TD were computed. Data analysis revealed three fundamentally different displacement patterns. Total structure displacement was in the range of 0.94 cm (TH) to 4.27 cm (TD). Phase delays of up to 90 (i.e., a quarter of a breathing cycle) between different structures were found. Motion offsets in the range of -28.30 to 14.90 were computed for the PF with respect to the TD. The diversity of results in only three investigated participants suggests a variety of possible breathing strategies, warranting further research.

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