The specific absorption rate (SAR) is a limiting constraint in sequence design for high-field MRI. SAR estimation is typically performed by numerical simulations using generic human body models. This entails an intrinsic uncertainty in present SAR prediction. This study first investigates the required detail of human body models in terms of spatial resolution and the number of soft tissue classes required, based on finite-differences time-domain simulations of a 3 T body coil. The numerical results indicate that a resolution of 5 mm is sufficient for local SAR estimation. Moreover, a differentiation between fatty tissues, water-rich tissues, and the lungs was found to be essential to represent eddy current paths inside the human body. This study then proposes a novel approach for generating individualized body models from whole-body water-fat-separated MR data and applies it to volunteers. The SAR hotspots consistently occurred in the arms due to proximity to the body coil as well as in narrow regions of the muscles. An initial in vivo validation of the simulated fields in comparison with measured B(1) -field maps showed good qualitative and quantitative agreement. Magn Reson Med, 2011. (c) 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
OBJECT: Parallel transmission facilitates a relatively direct control of the RF transmit field. This is usually applied to improve the RF field homogeneity but might also allow a reduction of the specific absorption rate (SAR) to increase freedom in sequence design for high-field MRI. However, predicting the local SAR is challenging as it depends not only on the multi-channel drive but also on the individual patient. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The potential of RF shimming for SAR management is investigated for a 3 T body coil with eight independent transmit elements, based on Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) simulations. To address the patient-dependency of the SAR, nine human body models were generated from volunteer MR data and used in the simulations. A novel approach to RF shimming that enforces local SAR constraints is proposed. RESULTS: RF shimming substantially reduced the local SAR, consistently for all volunteers. Using SAR constraints, a further SAR reduction could be achieved with only minor compromises in RF performance. CONCLUSION: Parallel transmission can become an important tool to control and manage the local SAR in the human body. The practical use of local SAR constraints is feasible with consistent results for a variety of body models.
In dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies, the motion kinetics or the contrast variability are often hard to predict, hampering an appropriate choice of the image update rate or the temporal resolution. A constant azimuthal profile spacing (111.246 degrees), based on the Golden Ratio, is investigated as optimal for image reconstruction from an arbitrary number of profiles in radial MRI. The profile order is evaluated and compared with a uniform profile distribution in terms of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and artifact level. The favorable characteristics of such a profile order are exemplified in two applications on healthy volunteers. First, an advanced sliding window reconstruction scheme is applied to dynamic cardiac imaging, with a reconstruction window that can be flexibly adjusted according to the extent of cardiac motion that is acceptable. Second, a contrast-enhancing k-space filter is presented that permits reconstructing an arbitrary number of images at arbitrary time points from one raw data set. The filter was utilized to depict the T1-relaxation in the brain after a single inversion prepulse. While a uniform profile distribution with a constant angle increment is optimal for a fixed and predetermined number of profiles, a profile distribution based on the Golden Ratio proved to be an appropriate solution for an arbitrary number of profiles.
PURPOSE: To demonstrate a rapid MR technique that combines imaging and R2* mapping based on a single radial multi-gradient-echo (rMGE) data set. The technique provides a fast method for online monitoring of the administration of (super-)paramagnetic contrast agents as well as image-guided drug delivery. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data are acquired using an rMGE sequence, resulting in interleaved undersampled radial k-spaces representing different echo times (TEs). These data sets are reconstructed separately, yielding a series of images with different TEs used for pixelwise R2* mapping. A fast numerical algorithm implemented on a real-time reconstruction platform provides online estimation of the relaxation rate R2*. Simultaneously the images are summed for the computation of a high-resolution image. RESULTS: Convenient high-resolution R2* maps of phantoms and the liver of a healthy volunteer were obtained. In addition to stable intrinsic baseline maps, the proposed technique provides particularly accurate results for the high relaxation rates observed during the presence of (super-)paramagnetic contrast agents. Assuming that the change in R2* is proportional to the concentration of the agent, the technique offers a rough estimate for dynamic dosage. CONCLUSION: The simultaneous online display of morphological and parametric information permits convenient, quantitative surveillance of contrast-agent administration.
The steady-state free precessing (SSFP) sequences, widely used in MRI today, acquire data only during a short fraction of the repetition time (TR). Thus, they exhibit a poor scan efficiency. In this paper, a novel approach to extending the acquisition window for a given TR without considerably modifying the basic sequence is explored for radial SSFP sequences. The additional data are primarily employed to increase the signal-to-noise ratio, rather than to improve the temporal resolution of the imaging. The approach is analyzed regarding its effect on the image SNR (signal to noise ratio) and the reconstruction algorithm. Results are presented for phantom experiments and cardiac functions studies. The gain in SNR is most notable in rapid imaging, since SNR enhancement for a constant repetition time may be used to compensate for the increase in noise resulting from angular undersampling.
A shortcoming of current coronary MRA methods with thin-slab 3D acquisitions is the time-consuming examination necessitated by extensive scout scanning and precise slice planning. To improve ease of use and cover larger parts of the anatomy, it appears desirable to image the entire heart with high spatial resolution instead. For this purpose, an isotropic 3D-radial acquisition was employed in this study. This method allows undersampling of k-space in all three spatial dimensions, and its insensitivity to motion enables extended acquisitions per cardiac cycle. We present initial phantom and in vivo results obtained in volunteers that demonstrate large volume coverage with high isotropic spatial resolution. We were able to visualize all major parts of the coronary arteries retrospectively from the volume data set without compromising the image quality. The scan time ranged from 10 to 14 min during free breathing at a heart rate of 60 bpm, which is comparable to that of a thin-slab protocol comprising multiple scans for each coronary artery.