Purpose: High resolution MR images obtained from a normal human volunteer at 8 T are utilized to describe the appearance of iron-containing deep gray nuclei at this field strength.
Method: High resolution (1,024 x 1,024 matrix) near-axial gradient echo images of the deep gray nuclei were acquired on a human volunteer by using an 8 T scanner. The images were acquired using a transverse electromagnetic resonator operating in quadrature. The following parameters were utilized: TR = 750 ms, TE = 17 ms, flip angle = 45 degrees, receiver bandwidth = 50 kHz, slice thickness = 2 mm, FOV = 20 cm. The 8 T images were reviewed and correlated to the known anatomy of the deep nuclei by comparing them with images observed at lower field strength, published diagrams, and histologic sections. In addition, the appearance of the nuclei was related to the known imaging characteristics of brain iron at lower fields.
Results: The caudate, globus pallidus, putamen, thalami, substantia nigra, and red nuclei were clearly identified. The structures with the highest levels of iron, the globus pallidus, substantia nigra, and red nuclei, demonstrated significantly decreased signal, providing a map of iron distribution in the human brain.
Conclusion: Preliminary imaging at 8 T demonstrates the ability to acquire ultra high resolution images of the deep nuclei, with signal characteristics believed to represent the distribution of brain iron. This may prove to be important in the early diagnosis of several neurodegenerative disorders.