To determine the optimum configuration of a phased array MR coil system for human cardiac applications, the sensitivity of 10 flexible array designs operating under ideal conditions was calculated at 13 points circling the myocardium of a model torso whose geometry was determined from healthy volunteers. The array geometries that were evaluated included continuous strips of 2, 4, 6, and 10 circular coils of diameter equal to half the torso thickness wrapped laterally around the torso, 2 pairs of coils located on the left side of the chest and back, clusters of 3 coils in 2 orientations, clusters of 4 and 6 coils, and a hybrid cross of 6 coils. The 4-, 6-, and 10- coil strip arrays out-performed the other designs for a given number of coils, yielding average theoretical sensitivity improvements of 45%, 53%, and 55% relative to a single flexible coil positioned at the point closest to the anterior myocardium, compared with about 30% for 4- and 6-coil clusters and the 2-pair geometry (P < 0.02). A flexible 4-coil strip array was constructed for a clinical 1.5 T scanner with 15-cm diameter circular surface coils on flexible circuit board. The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of this coil at the 13 cardiac locations was measured in 15 normal volunteers and compared with the SNR measured in images acquired with standard commercial MR coils: a body coil, a flexible torso array, a general purpose flexible coil, and, in 4 subjects, a dual array coil. In the prone orientation, the average myocardial SNR improvement of the 4-coil strip array was 650% relative to the whole body coil, compared with 310-340% for the other commercial coils (P < 0.00005). The twofold advantage over the commercial coils persisted in supine studies (P < 0.00005, n = 5). Thus, flexible circumferential phased arrays of strips of surface coils of diameter comparable with the depth of the heart generally out-perform many other standard geometries for a given number of coils, and can yield dramatically improved SNR over coils available for general use in the torso.
- phased arrays
- radiofrequency coils
- signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging