Myocardial Tagging by Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance: Evolution of Techniques–Pulse Sequences, Analysis Algorithms, and Applications
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) tagging has been established as an essential technique for measuring regional myocardial function. It allows quantification of local intramyocardial motion measures, e.g. strain and strain rate. The invention of CMR tagging came in the late eighties, where the technique allowed for the first time for visualizing transmural myocardial movement without having to implant physical markers. This new idea opened the door for a series of developments and improvements that continue up to the current day. Different tagging techniques are currently available that are more extensive, improved, and sophisticated than they were twenty three years ago. Each of these techniques has different versions for improved resolution, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), scan time, anatomical coverage, three-dimensional capability, and image quality. The tagging techniques covered in this article can be broadly divided into two main categories: 1) Basic techniques, which include magnetization saturation, spatial modulation of magnetization (SPAMM), delay alternating with nutations for tailored excitation (DANTE), and complementary SPAMM (CSPAMM); and 2) Advanced techniques, which include harmonic phase (HARP), displacement encoding with stimulated echoes (DENSE), and strain encoding (SENC). Although most of these techniques were developed by separate research groups and evolved from different backgrounds, they are in fact closely related to each other, and can be interpreted from more than one perspective. Some of these techniques even followed parallel paths of developments, as illustrated in the article. As each technique has its own advantages, some efforts have been made to combine different techniques for improved image quality or composite information acquisition. In this review, different developments in pulse sequences and related image processing techniques are described along with the necessities that led to their invention, which makes this article straightforward to read and the covered techniques easy to follow. Most major studies that applied CMR tagging for studying myocardial mechanics are also summarized. Finally, the current article includes a plethora of ideas and techniques with over 300 references that motivate the reader to think about the future of CMR tagging.
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