The partial Fourier gradient-echo echo planar imaging (EPI) technique makes it possible to acquire high-resolution functional MRI (fMRI) data at an optimal echo time. This technique is especially important for fMRI studies at high magnetic fields, where the optimal echo time is short and may not be achieved with a full Fourier acquisition scheme. In addition, it has been shown that partial Fourier EPI provides better anatomic resolvability than full Fourier EPI. However, the partial Fourier gradient-echo EPI may be degraded by artifacts that are not usually seen in other types of imaging. Those unique artifacts in partial Fourier gradient-echo EPI, to our knowledge, have not yet been systematically evaluated. Here we use the k-space energy spectrum analysis method to understand and characterize two types of partial Fourier EPI artifacts. Our studies show that Type 1 artifact, originating from k-space energy loss, cannot be corrected with pure postprocessing, and Type 2 artifact can be eliminated with an improved reconstruction method. We propose a novel algorithm, that combines images obtained from two or more reconstruction schemes guided by k-space energy spectrum analysis, to generate partial Fourier EPI with greatly reduced Type 2 artifact. Quality control procedures for avoiding Type 1 artifact in partial Fourier EPI are also discussed.
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