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MAGMA. 2012 Jun;25(3):233-44. doi: 10.1007/s10334-011-0284-5. Epub 2011 Oct 22.

Possibilities and limitations for high resolution small animal MRI on a clinical whole-body 3T scanner.

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  • 1Medical Physics Group, Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology I, Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany.



To investigate the potential of a clinical 3 T scanner to perform MRI of small rodents.


Different dedicated small animal coils and several imaging sequences were evaluated to optimize image quality with respect to SNR, contrast and spatial resolution. As an application, optimal grey-white-matter contrast and resolution were investigated for rats. Furthermore, manganese-enhanced MRI was applied in mice with unilateral crush injury of the optic nerve to investigate coil performance on topographic mapping of the visual projection.


Differences in SNR and CNR up to factor 3 and more were observed between the investigated coils. The best grey-white matter contrast was achieved with a high resolution 3D T (2)-weighted TSE (SPACE) sequence. Delineation of the retino-tectal projection and detection of defined visual pathway damage on the level of the optic nerve could be achieved by using a T (1)-weighted, 3D gradient echo sequence with isotropic resolution of (0.2 mm)(3).


Experimental studies in small rodents requiring high spatial resolution can be performed by using a clinical 3 T scanner with appropriate dedicated coils.

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