Background: Advanced cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) acquisitions often require long scan durations that necessitate respiratory navigator gating. The tradeoff of navigator gating is reduced scan efficiency, particularly when the patient’s breathing patterns are inconsistent, as is commonly seen in children. We hypothesized that engaging pediatric participants with a navigator-controlled videogame to help control breathing patterns would improve navigator efficiency and maintain image quality.

Methods: We developed custom software that processed the Siemens respiratory navigator image in real-time during CMR and represented diaphragm position using a cartoon avatar, which was projected to the participant in the scanner as visual feedback. The game incentivized children to breathe such that the avatar was positioned within the navigator acceptance window (±3 mm) throughout image acquisition.

Using a 3T Siemens Tim Trio, 50 children (Age: 14 ± 3 years, 48 % female) with no significant past medical history underwent a respiratory navigator-gated 2D spiral cine displacement encoding with stimulated echoes (DENSE) CMR acquisition first with no feedback (NF) and then with the feedback game (FG). Thirty of the 50 children were randomized to undergo extensive off-scanner training with the FG using a MRI simulator, or no off-scanner training. Navigator efficiency, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and global left-ventricular strains were determined for each participant and compared.

Results: Using the FG improved average navigator efficiency from 33 ± 15 to 58 ± 13 % (p < 0.001) and improved SNR by 5 % (p = 0.01) compared to acquisitions with NF. There was no difference in navigator efficiency (p = 0.90) or SNR (p = 0.77) between untrained and trained participants for FG acquisitions. Circumferential and radial strains derived from FG acquisitions were slightly reduced compared to NF acquisitions (−16 ± 2 % vs −17 ± 2 %, p < 0.001; 40 ± 10 % vs 44 ± 11 %, p = 0.005, respectively). There were no differences in longitudinal strain (p = 0.38).

Conclusions: Use of a respiratory navigator feedback game during navigator-gated CMR improved navigator efficiency in children from 33 to 58 %. This improved efficiency was associated with a 5 % increase in SNR for spiral cine DENSE. Extensive off-scanner training was not required to achieve the improvement in navigator efficiency.

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Published in Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, v. 18, 54, p. 1-10.

© 2016 The Author(s).

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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This work was supported by a National Institute of Health (NIH) Director’s Early Independence Award (DP5 OD-012132), a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Science (P20 GM103527) of the National Institutes of Health, a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein fellowship (NIH 1F31HL126403-01), and a grant UL1TR000117 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), funded by the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health and supported by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.

12968_2016_272_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (51 kB)
Additional file 1: Training Protocol and Survey Responses.