Coil-by-coil reconstruction methods are followed by coil combination to obtain a single image representing a spin density map. Typical coil combination methods, such as square-root sum-of-squares and adaptive coil combining, yield images that exhibit spatially varying modulation of image intensity. Existing practice is to first combine coils according to a signal-to-noise criterion, then postprocess to correct intensity inhomogeneity. If inhomogeneity is severe, however, intensity correction methods can yield poor results. The purpose of this article is to present an alternative optimality criterion for coil combination; the resulting procedure yields reduced intensity inhomogeneity while preserving contrast.Theory and Methods:
A minimum mean squared error criterion is adopted for combining coils via a subspace decomposition. Techniques are compared using both simulated and in vivo data.Results:
Experimental results for simulated and in vivo data demonstrate lower bias, higher signal-to-noise ratio (about 7×) and contrast-to-noise ratio (about 2×), compared to existing coil combination techniques.Conclusion:
The proposed coil combination method is noniterative and does not require estimation of coil sensitivity maps or image mask; the method is particularly suited to cases where intensity inhomogeneity is too severe for existing approaches. Magn Reson Med 75:762–774, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.