Signal-to-noise ratio and MR tissue parameters in human brain imaging at 3, 7, and 9.4 tesla using current receive coil arrays

Magn Reson Med. 2016 Feb;75(2):801-9. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25677. Epub 2015 Mar 29.


Purpose: Relaxation times, transmit homogeneity, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and parallel imaging g-factor were determined in the human brain at 3T, 7T, and 9.4T, using standard, tight-fitting coil arrays.

Methods: The same human subjects were scanned at all three field strengths, using identical sequence parameters and similar 31- or 32-channel receive coil arrays. The SNR of three-dimensional (3D) gradient echo images was determined using a multiple replica approach and corrected with measured flip angle and T2 (*) distributions and the T1 of white matter to obtain the intrinsic SNR. The g-factor maps were derived from 3D gradient echo images with several GRAPPA accelerations.

Results: As expected, T1 values increased, T2 (*) decreased and the B1 -homogeneity deteriorated with increasing field. The SNR showed a distinctly supralinear increase with field strength by a factor of 3.10 ± 0.20 from 3T to 7T, and 1.76 ± 0.13 from 7T to 9.4T over the entire cerebrum. The g-factors did not show the expected decrease, indicating a dominating role of coil design.

Conclusion: In standard experimental conditions, SNR increased supralinearly with field strength (SNR ∼ B0 (1.65) ). To take full advantage of this gain, the deteriorating B1 -homogeneity and the decreasing T2 (*) have to be overcome.

Keywords: relaxation times; signal-to-noise ratio; ultra-high field.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio