The intrinsic signal-to-noise ratio in NMR imaging

Magn Reson Med. 1986 Aug;3(4):604-18. doi: 10.1002/mrm.1910030413.


The fundamental limit for NMR imaging is set by an intrinsic signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for a particular combination of rf antenna and imaging subjects. The intrinsic SNR is the signal from a small volume of material in the sample competing with electrical noise from thermally generated, random noise currents in the sample. The intrinsic SNR has been measured for a number of antenna-body section combinations at several different values of the static magnetic field and is proportional to B0. We have applied the intrinsic and system SNR to predict image SNR and have found satisfactory agreement with measurements on images. The relationship between SNR and pixel size is quite different in NMR than it is with imaging modalities using ionizing radiation, and indicates that the initial choice of pixel size is crucial in NMR. The analog of "contrast-detail-dose" plots for ionizing radiation imaging modalities is the "contrast-detail-time" plot in NMR, which should prove useful in choosing a suitable pixel array to visualize a particular anatomical detail for a given NMR receiving antenna.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology
  • Biometry
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy* / methods
  • Pelvis / anatomy & histology