Size-optimized 32-channel receive array coils were developed for five age groups, neonates, 6 months old, 1 year old, 4 years old, and 7 years old, and evaluated for pediatric brain imaging. The array consisted of overlapping circular surface coils laid out on a close-fitting coil-former. The two-section coil former design was obtained from surface contours of aligned three-dimensional MRI scans of each age group. Signal-to-noise ratio and noise amplification for parallel imaging were evaluated and compared to two coils routinely used for pediatric brain imaging; a commercially available 32-channel adult head coil and a pediatric-sized birdcage coil. Phantom measurements using the neonate, 6-month-old, 1-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-old coils showed signal-to-noise ratio increases at all locations within the brain over the comparison coils. Within the brain cortex the five dedicated pediatric arrays increased signal-to-noise ratio by up to 3.6-, 3.0-, 2.6-, 2.3-, and 1.7-fold, respectively, compared to the 32-channel adult coil, as well as improved G-factor maps for accelerated imaging. This study suggests that a size-tailored approach can provide significant sensitivity gains for accelerated and unaccelerated pediatric brain imaging.
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