[3 Tesla MRI: successful results with higher field strengths]

Radiologe. 2004 Jan;44(1):31-47. doi: 10.1007/s00117-003-1000-x.
[Article in German]


The recent development of 3 Tesla MRI (3T MRI) has been fueled by promise of increased signal-to-noise ratio(SNR). Many are excited about the opportunity to not only use the increased SNR for clearer images, but also the chance to exchange it for better resolution or faster scans. These possibilities have caused a rapid increase in the market for 3T MRI, where the faster scanning tips an already advantageous economic outlook in favor of the user. As a result, the global market for 3T has grown from a research only market just a few years ago to an ever-increasing clinically oriented customer base. There are, however, significant obstacles to 3T MRI presented by the physics at higher field strengths. For example, the T1 relaxation times are prolonged with increasing magnet field strength. Further, the increased RF-energy deposition (SAR), the larger the chemical shift and the stronger susceptibility effect have to be considered as challenges. It is critical that one looks at both the advantages and disadvantages of using 3T. While there are many issues to address aand a number of different methods for doing so, to properly tackle each of these concerns will take time and effort on the part od researchers and clinicians. The optimization of 3T MRI scanning will have to be a combined effort, though much of the work to date has been in neuroimaging. Multiple applications have been explored in addition to clinical anatomical imaging, where resolution is improved showing structure in the brain never seen before in human MRI. Body and cardiac imaging provide a great challenge but are also achievable at 3T. As an example, the full range of clinical applications currently achieved on today's state-of-the-art 1.5T cardiac MR scanners has also been demonstrated at 3T. In the body, the full range of contrast is available over large fields of view allowing whole liver studies in the clinic or, as needed, one may choose a smaller field of view for high-resolution imaging of the pancreas. The ability to increase resolution for musculoskeletal imaging has provided previously unseen detail. Bone structure, cartilage, and tendons and ligaments can be clearly visualized and pathology more easily detected due to an increased image quality. As the increase in field strength continues, a push to look at 7T has begun. The design philosophy is to keep the system as similar as possible, while changing only the frequency-dependent components. To date, both animal and human imaging have been performed on a whole body 7T scanner. Results show promise for both detailed imaging and functional MRI, but the road ahead is too long to be able to predict where it will end. The move toward higher field strengths is an exciting adventure in which 3T plays the role of trailblazer.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / instrumentation*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Physical Phenomena
  • Physics
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical