Analysis and improvement of motion encoding in magnetic resonance elastography

Christian Guenthner*, Jurgen Henk Runge, Ralph Sinkus, Sebastian Kozerke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) utilizes phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is phase locked to externally generated mechanical vibrations, to measure the three-dimensional wave displacement field. At least four measurements with linear-independent encoding directions are necessary to correct for spurious phase contributions if effects from imaging gradients are non-negligible. In MRE, three encoding schemes have been used: unbalanced four- and six-point and balanced four-point (‘tetrahedral’) encoding. The first two sensitize to motion with orthogonal gradients, with the four-point method acquiring a single reference scan without motion sensitization, whereas three additional scans with inverted gradients are used with six-point encoding, leading to two-fold higher displacement-to-noise ratio (DNR) and 50% longer scan duration. Balanced four-point (tetrahedral) encoding encodes along the four diagonals of a cube, with one direction serving as a reference for the other three encoding directions, similar to four-point encoding. The objective of this work is to introduce a theoretical framework to compare different motion sensitization strategies with respect to their motion encoding efficiency in two fundamental encoding limits, the gradient strength limit and the dynamic range limit, which are both placed in relation to conventional gradient recalled echo (GRE)- and spin echo (SE)-based MRE sequences. We apply the framework to the three aforementioned schemes and show that the motion encoding efficiency of unbalanced four- and six-point encoding schemes in the gradient-limited regime can be increased by a factor of 1.5 when using all physical gradient channels concurrently. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that reversing the direction of the reference in balanced four-point (tetrahedral) encoding results in the Hadamard encoding scheme, which leads to increased DNR by compared with balanced four-point encoding and 2.8 compared with unbalanced four-point encoding. As an example, we show that optimal encoding can be utilized to reduce the acquisition time of standard liver MRE in vivo from four to two breath holds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3908
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Issue number5
Early online date30 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • encoding efficiency
  • four-point encoding
  • Hadamard encoding
  • magnetic resonance elastography
  • tetrahedral encoding


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