PURPOSE: To characterize the acceleration capabilities of a silent head insert gradient axis that operates at the inaudible frequency of 20 kHz and a maximum gradient amplitude of 40 mT/m without inducing peripheral nerve stimulation.
METHODS: The silent gradient axis' acquisitions feature an oscillating gradient in the phase-encoding direction that is played out on top of a cartesian readout, similarly as done in Wave-CAIPI. The additional spatial encoding fills k-space in readout lanes allowing for the acquisition of fewer phase-encoding steps without increasing aliasing artifacts. Fully sampled 2D gradient echo datasets were acquired both with and without the silent readout. All scans were retrospectively undersampled (acceleration factors R = 1 to 12) to compare conventional SENSE acceleration and acceleration using the silent gradient. The silent gradient amplitude and the readout bandwidth were varied to investigate the effect on artifacts and g-factor.
RESULTS: The silent readout reduced the g-factor for all acceleration factors when compared to SENSE acceleration. Increasing the silent gradient amplitude from 31.5 mT/m to 40 mT/m at an acceleration factor of 10 yielded a reduction in the average g-factor (gavg ) from 1.3 ± 0.14 (gmax = 1.9) to 1.1 ± 0.09 (gmax = 1.6). Furthermore, reducing the number of cycles increased the readout bandwidth and the g-factor that reached gavg = 1.5 ± 0.16 for a readout bandwidth of 651 Hz/pixel and an acceleration factor of R = 8.
CONCLUSION: A silent gradient axis enables high acceleration factors up to R = 10 while maintaining a g-factor close to unity (gavg = 1.1 and gmax = 1.6) and can be acquired with clinically relevant readout bandwidths.