Birdcage volume coils and magnetic resonance imaging: a simple experiment for students

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Vincent, Dwight E
Wang, Tianhao
Magyar, Thalia A K
Jacob, Peni I
Buist, Richard
Martin, Melanie
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Abstract Background This article explains some simple experiments that can be used in undergraduate or graduate physics or biomedical engineering laboratory classes to learn how birdcage volume radiofrequency (RF) coils and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) work. For a clear picture, and to do any quantitative MRI analysis, acquiring images with a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is required. With a given MRI system at a given field strength, the only means to change the SNR using hardware is to change the RF coil used to collect the image. RF coils can be designed in many different ways including birdcage volume RF coil designs. The choice of RF coil to give the best SNR for any MRI study is based on the sample being imaged. Results The data collected in the simple experiments show that the SNR varies as inverse diameter for the birdcage volume RF coils used in these experiments. The experiments were easily performed by a high school student, an undergraduate student, and a graduate student, in less than 3 h, the time typically allotted for a university laboratory course. Conclusions The article describes experiments that students in undergraduate or graduate laboratories can perform to observe how birdcage volume RF coils influence MRI measurements. It is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in the imaging field.
Journal of Biological Engineering. 2017 Nov 02;11(1):41