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Title: Construction and characterisation of MRI coils for vessel wall imaging at 7 tesla
Author: Papoutsis, Konstantinos
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 9998
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Atherosclerotic plaques in the bifurcation of the carotid artery vessels can pose a significant stroke risk from stenosis, thrombosis and emboli, or plaque rupture. However, the possibility of the latter depends on the structure of the plaque and its stability. So far, the assessment of such depositions, and the evaluation of the risk they pose, is not satisfactory with 3 Tesla black blood imaging. It is expected that the SNR increase at 7 Tesla, together with an appropriate and patient-safe RF coil, will result in higher resolution images that would help in better assessing the composition of atherosclerotic plaques in vessel walls. A custom-built neck array was designed and constructed, with the aim of investigating the benefits of the higher field strength using DANTE-prepared black blood imaging. A 4-channel transmit array was designed to generate the required B+1 field for the DANTE module to be used. A separate close fitting 4-channel receive array was preferred for improved SNR and parallel (receive) imaging. Geometric, active, passive as well as preamp decoupling schemes were employed for adequate isolation between the arrays and their channels. Electromagnetic simulation software, Semcad X (SPEAG, Zurich), was used for safety assessment with human phantoms (Virtual population). The E fields for 1 W transmission per channel were calculated for each element for a worst case SAR estimation. The transmission power limits per channel were set according to the 10g SAR limit set in IEC 60601. For simulation validation, temperature measurements and surface heat mapping were performed on a meat phantom. Finally, a healthy male subject was scanned using a protocol consisting of B1 mapping, RF shimming at an ROI, and 2D and 3D DANTE prepared Gradient Echo (GRE). The worst-case heating scenario, as defined in the methods section, generated a maximum local SAR of 7.65 W/kg for 1 Watt per channel input. Thus, for 1st level mode (20W/kg max), the power limit was set at 2.6 W per channel. The heating profile was similar to that simulated and the measured temperature increase was within a ±10% margin relative to the simulation. The global SAR power limit per channel was found to be higher (i.e. more allowed power) than the worst case local SAR power limit, and thus did not impose additional power penalty. The resolution achieved was 0.6 mm isotropic for the 3D protocol and 0.6 by 0.6 by 2.5 mm for the 2D protocol. The average SNR was measured within the vessel wall location of the two carotid arteries and found to be 27±6 for the DANTE images and for the static tissue closer to the skin the SNR was 55±2. In conclusion, a 4Tx/4Rx coil was designed to target the carotid arteries operating under pTx mode and a black blood imaging sequence was implemented for blood signal suppression and vessel wall imaging. The initial results from the subject and phantom imaging show satisfactory blood suppression and spatial resolution.
Supervisor: Jezzard, Peter; Payne, Stephen J.; Edwards, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medical Engineering ; MRI coils ; RF coils ; RF arrays ; RF safety ; MR safety ; RF simulation ; RF coil construction ; array characterisation ; vessel wall imaging