Signal-to-noise ratio and MR tissue parameters in human brain imaging at 3, 7, and 9.4 tesla using current receive coil arrays

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Abstract

Purpose:

Relaxation times, transmit homogeneity, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and parallel imaging g-factor were determined in the human brain at 3T, 7T, and 9.4T, using standard, tight-fitting coil arrays.

Methods:

The same human subjects were scanned at all three field strengths, using identical sequence parameters and similar 31- or 32-channel receive coil arrays. The SNR of three-dimensional (3D) gradient echo images was determined using a multiple replica approach and corrected with measured flip angle and T2* distributions and the T1 of white matter to obtain the intrinsic SNR. The g-factor maps were derived from 3D gradient echo images with several GRAPPA accelerations.

Results:

As expected, T1 values increased, T2* decreased and the B1-homogeneity deteriorated with increasing field. The SNR showed a distinctly supralinear increase with field strength by a factor of 3.10 ± 0.20 from 3T to 7T, and 1.76 ± 0.13 from 7T to 9.4T over the entire cerebrum. The g-factors did not show the expected decrease, indicating a dominating role of coil design.

Conclusion:

In standard experimental conditions, SNR increased supralinearly with field strength (SNR ˜ B01.65). To take full advantage of this gain, the deteriorating B1-homogeneity and the decreasing T2* have to be overcome. Magn Reson Med 75:801–809, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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