Spinal cord MRI at 7T.
Barry RL., Vannesjo SJ., By S., Gore JC., Smith SA.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the human spinal cord at 7T has been demonstrated by a handful of research sites worldwide, and the spinal cord remains one of the areas in which higher fields and resolution could have high impact. The small diameter of the cord (∼1 cm) necessitates high spatial resolution to minimize partial volume effects between gray and white matter, and so MRI of the cord can greatly benefit from increased signal-to-noise ratio and contrasts at ultra-high field (UHF). Herein we review the current state of UHF spinal cord imaging. Technical challenges to successful UHF spinal cord MRI include radiofrequency (B1) nonuniformities and a general lack of optimized radiofrequency coils, amplified physiological noise, and an absence of methods for robust B0 shimming along the cord to mitigate image distortions and signal losses. Numerous solutions to address these challenges have been and are continuing to be explored, and include novel approaches for signal excitation and acquisition, dynamic shimming and specialized shim coils, and acquisitions with increased coverage or optimal slice angulations.