Purpose: To evaluate the validity of different approaches to determine the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in MRI experiments with multi-element surface coils, parallel imaging, and different reconstruction filters.
Materials and methods: Four different approaches of SNR calculation were compared in phantom measurements and in vivo based on: 1) the pixel-by-pixel standard deviation (SD) in multiple repeated acquisitions; 2) the signal statistics in a difference image; and 3) and 4) the statistics in two separate regions of a single image employing either the mean value or the SD of background noise. Different receiver coil systems (with one and eight channels), acquisitions with and without parallel imaging, and five different reconstruction filters were compared.
Results: Averaged over all phantom measurements, the deviations from the reference value provided by the multiple-acquisitions method are 2.7% (SD 1.6%) for the difference method, 37.7% (25.9%) for the evaluation of the mean value of background noise, and 34.0% (38.1%) for the evaluation of the SD of background noise.
Conclusion: The conventionally determined SNR based on separate signal and noise regions in a single image will in general not agree with the true SNR measured in images after the application of certain reconstruction filters, multichannel reconstruction, or parallel imaging.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.