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.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.