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J Magn Reson. 2012 Jan;214(1):212-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jmr.2011.11.010. Epub 2011 Nov 20.

Evaluation of non-selective refocusing pulses for 7 T MRI.

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  • 1Vanderbilt University, Institute of Imaging Science, 1161 21st Ave. South, MCN AA-1105, Nashville, TN 37232-2310, United States.


There is a continuing need for improved RF pulses that achieve proper refocusing in the context of ultra-high field (≥ 7 T) human MRI. Simple block or sinc pulses are highly susceptible to RF field inhomogeneities, and adiabatic pulses are generally considered too SAR intensive for practical use at 7 T. The performance of the array of pulses falling between these extremes, however, has not been systematically evaluated. The aim of this work was to compare the performances of 21 non-selective refocusing pulses spanning a range of durations and SAR levels. The evaluation was based upon simulations and both phantom and in vivo human brain experiments conducted at 7 T. Tested refocusing designs included block, composite block, BIR-4, hyperbolic secant, and numerically optimized composite waveforms. These pulses were divided into three SAR classes and two duration categories, and, based on signal gain in a 3-D spin echo sequence, practical recommendations on usage are made within each category. All evaluated pulses were found to produce greater volume-averaged signals relative to a 180° block pulse. Although signal gains often come with the price of increased SAR or duration, some pulses were found to result in significant signal enhancement while also adhering to practical constraints. This work demonstrates the signal gains and losses realizable with single-channel refocusing pulse designs and should assist in the selection of suitable refocusing pulses for practical 3-D spin-echo imaging at 7 T. It further establishes a reference against which future pulses and multi-channel designs can be compared.

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