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J Magn Reson. 2011 Aug;211(2):101-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jmr.2011.05.011. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Non-cryogenic anatomical imaging in ultra-low field regime: hand MRI demonstration.

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Los Alamos National Laboratory, Applied Modern Physics Group, MS D454, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA.


Ultra-low field (ULF) MRI with a pulsed prepolarization is a promising method with potential for applications where conventional high-, mid-, and low-field medical MRI cannot be used due to cost, weight, or other restrictions. Previously, successful ULF demonstrations of anatomical imaging were made using liquid helium-cooled SQUIDs and conducted inside a magnetically shielded room. The Larmor frequency for these demonstrations was ∼3 kHz. In order to make ULF MRI more accessible, portable, and inexpensive, we have recently developed a non-cryogenic system. To eliminate the requirement for a magnetically shielded room and improve the detection sensitivity, we increased the frequency to 83.6 kHz. While the background noise at these frequencies is greatly reduced, this is still within the ULF regime and most of its advantages such as simplicity in magnetic field generation hardware, and less stringent requirements for uniform fields, remaining. In this paper we demonstrate use of this system to image a human hand with up to 1.5mm resolution. The signal-to-noise ratio was sufficient to reveal anatomical features within a scan time of less than 7 min. This prototype can be scaled up for constructing head and full body scanners, and work is in progress toward demonstration of head imaging.

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