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Partial Flip Angle
 
(PFI) A flip angle of less than 90° only partially converts the z-magnetization, leaving a fraction cos a along the longitudinal direction. A flip angle of 90° converts all the z-magnetization into xy-magnetization.
When the repetition time is shorter than T1, the use of a partial flip angle can lead to higher signal intensity. The maximum signal intensity is given by the Ernst angle. For spin echo pulse sequences using an odd number of 180° pulses, an effect similar to the use of a partial flip angle is obtained by using a flip angle greater than 90° to offset the inversion of the remaining longitudinal magnetization by the 180° pulse.
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Gradient Echo SequenceForum -
related threadsInfoSheet: - Sequences - 
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Gradient Echo Sequence Timing Diagram (GRE - sequence) A gradient echo is generated by using a pair of bipolar gradient pulses. In the pulse sequence timing diagram, the basic gradient echo sequence is illustrated. There is no refocusing 180° pulse and the data are sampled during a gradient echo, which is achieved by dephasing the spins with a negatively pulsed gradient before they are rephased by an opposite gradient with opposite polarity to generate the echo.
See also the Pulse Sequence Timing Diagram. There you will find a description of the components.
The excitation pulse is termed the alpha pulse a. It tilts the magnetization by a flip angle a, which is typically between 0° and 90°. With a small flip angle there is a reduction in the value of transverse magnetization that will affect subsequent RF pulses. The flip angle can also be slowly increased during data acquisition (variable flip angle: tilt optimized nonsaturation excitation). The data are not acquired in a steady state, where z-magnetization recovery and destruction by ad-pulses are balanced. However, the z-magnetization is used up by tilting a little more of the remaining z-magnetization into the xy-plane for each acquired imaging line.
Gradient echo imaging is typically accomplished by examining the FID, whereas the read gradient is turned on for localization of the signal in the readout direction. T2* is the characteristic decay time constant associated with the FID. The contrast and signal generated by a gradient echo depend on the size of the longitudinal magnetization and the flip angle. When a = 90° the sequence is identical to the so-called partial saturation or saturation recovery pulse sequence. In standard GRE imaging, this basic pulse sequence is repeated as many times as image lines have to be acquired. Additional gradients or radio frequency pulses are introduced with the aim to spoil to refocus the xy-magnetization at the moment when the spin system is subject to the next a pulse.
As a result of the short repetition time, the z-magnetization cannot fully recover and after a few initial a pulses there is an equilibrium established between z-magnetization recovery and z-magnetization reduction due to the a pulses.
Gradient echoes have a lower SAR, are more sensitive to field inhomogeneities and have a reduced crosstalk, so that a small or no slice gap can be used. In or out of phase imaging depending on the selected TE (and field strength of the magnet) is possible. As the flip angle is decreased, T1 weighting can be maintained by reducing the TR. T2* weighting can be minimized by keeping the TE as short as possible, but pure T2 weighting is not possible. By using a reduced flip angle, some of the magnetization value remains longitudinal (less time needed to achieve full recovery) and for a certain T1 and TR, there exist one flip angle that will give the most signal, known as the "Ernst angle".
Contrast values:
PD weighted: Small flip angle (no T1), long TR (no T1) and short TE (no T2*)
T1 weighted: Large flip angle (70°), short TR (less than 50ms) and short TE
T2* weighted: Small flip angle, some longer TR (100 ms) and long TE (20 ms)

Classification of GRE sequences can be made into four categories:
T1 weighted or incoherent/(RF or gradient) spoiled GRE sequences
T1/T2* weighted or coherent//refocused GRE sequences
T2 weighted contrast enhanced GRE sequences
ultrafast GRE sequences
See also Gradient Recalled Echo Sequence, Spoiled Gradient Echo Sequence, Refocused Gradient Echo Sequence, Ultrafast Gradient Echo Sequence.
 
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Further Reading:
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Enhanced Fast GRadient Echo 3-Dimensional (efgre3D) or THRIVE
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