Neonatal brain injury suffered by preterm infants and newborns with some medical conditions can cause significant neurodevelopmental disabilities. MRI is a preferred method to detect these accidents and perform in vivo evaluation of the brain. However, the commercial availability and optimality of receive coils for the neonatal brain is limited, which in many cases leads to images lacking in quality. As extensively demonstrated, receive arrays closely positioned around the scanned part provide images with high signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs). The present work proposes a pneumatic-based MRI receive array that can physically adapt to infant head dimensions from 27-week premature to 1.5 months old. Average SNR increases of up to 68% in the head region and 122% in the cortex region, compared with a 32-channel commercial head coil, were achieved at 3 T. The consistent SNR distribution obtained through the complete coil size range, specifically in the cortex, allows the acquisition of images with similar quality across a range of head dimensions, which is not possible with fixed-size coils due to the variable coil-to-head distance. The risks associated with mechanical pressure on the neonatal head are minimal and the head motion is restricted. The method could be used in coil designs for other age groups, body parts and subjects.
Keywords: 3 T; MRI; adaptable array coil; neonatal MRI; receive array coil.
Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.