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Correction of concomitant gradient artifacts in experimental microtesla MRI

  • Author(s): Myers, Whittier R
  • Mossle, Michael
  • Clarke, John
  • et al.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suffers from artifacts caused by concomitant gradients when the product of the magnetic field gradient and the dimension of the sample becomes comparable to the static magnetic field. To investigate and correct for these artifacts at very low magnetic fields, we have acquired MR images of a 165-mm phantom in a 66-mu T field using gradients up to 350 mu T/m. We prepolarize the protons in a field of about 100 mT, apply a spin-echo pulse sequence, and detect the precessing spins using a superconducting gradiometer coupled to a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). Distortion and blurring are readily apparent at the edges of the images; by comparing the experimental images to computer simulations, we show that concomitant gradients cause these artifacts. We develop a non-perturbative, post-acquisition phase correction algorithm that eliminates the effects of concomitant gradients in both the simulated and the experimental images. This algorithm assumes that the switching time of the phase-encoding gradient is long compared to the spin precession period. In a second technique, we demonstrate that raising the precession field during phase encoding can also eliminate blurring caused by concomitant phase-encoding gradients; this technique enables one to correct concomitant gradient artifacts even when the detector has a restricted bandwidth that sets an upper limit on the precession frequency. In particular, the combination of phase correction and precession field cycling should allow one to add MRI capabilities to existing 300-channel SQUID systems used to detect neuronal currents in the brain because frequency encoding could be performed within the 1-2 kHz bandwidth of the readout system. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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