Purpose: To investigate the utility of ultra-short echo time (UTE) sequence as pulmonary MRI to detect non-uniform disruption of lung architecture that is typical of emphysema. Materials and Methods: MRI of the lungs was conducted with a three-dimensional UTE sequence in transgenic mice with severe emphysema and their wild-type litter-mates in a 3 Tesla clinical MR system. Measurements of the signal intensity (SI) and transverse relaxation time (T2*) of the lung parenchyma were performed with various echo times (TEs) ranging from 100 μs to 2 ms. Results: Much higher SI of the lung parenchyma was observed at an UTE of 100 μs compared with longer TEs. The emphysematous lungs had reduced SIs and T2* than the controls, in particular at end-expiratory phase. The results suggested that both SI and T2* in lung parenchyma measured with the method represent fractional volume of lung tissue. Conclusion: The UTE imaging provided MR signal from the lung parenchyma. Moreover, the UTE sequence was sensitive to emphysematous changes and may provide a direct assessment of lung parenchyma. UTE imaging has the potential to assist detection of localized pathological destruction of lung tissue architecture in emphysema.
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