Purpose: Increased signal-to-noise ratio and blood oxygenation level-dependent sensitivity at 7 Tesla (T) have the potential to enable high-resolution imaging of the human cervical spinal cord and brainstem. We propose a new two-panel radiofrequency coil design for these regions to fully exploit the advantages of ultra-high field. Methods: A two-panel array, containing four transmit/receive and 18 receive-only elements fully encircling the head and neck, was constructed following simulations demonstrating the B1+ and specific absorption rate (SAR) benefits of two-panel over one-panel arrays. This array was compared with a previously reported posterior-only array and tested for safety using a phantom. Its anatomical, functional, and diffusion MRI performance was demonstrated in vivo. Results: The two-panel array produced more uniform B1+ across the brainstem and cervical spinal cord without compromising SAR, and achieved 70% greater receive sensitivity than the posterior-only array. The two-panel design enabled acceleration of R = 2 × 2 in two dimensions or R = 3 in a single dimension. High quality in vivo anatomical, functional, and diffusion images of the human cervical spinal cord and brainstem were acquired. Conclusion: We have designed and constructed a wrap-around coil array with excellent performance for cervical spinal cord and brainstem MRI at 7T, which enables simultaneous human cervical spinal cord and brainstem functional MRI. Magn Reson Med 78:1623–1634, 2017.
- cervical spinal cord
- parallel imaging
- passive + shimming
- transmit–receive radio frequency coil array
- ultra-high field (7T)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging