This study was designed to examine the feasibility of ophthalmic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 7 T using a local 6-channel transmit/receive radiofrequency (RF) coil array in healthy volunteers and patients with intraocular masses.
A novel 6-element transceiver RF coil array that makes uses of loop elements and that is customized for eye imaging at 7 T is proposed. Considerations influencing the RF coil design and the characteristics of the proposed RF coil array are presented. Numerical electromagnetic field simulations were conducted to enhance the RF coil characteristics. Specific absorption rate simulations and a thorough assessment of RF power deposition were performed to meet the safety requirements. Phantom experiments were carried out to validate the electromagnetic field simulations and to assess the real performance of the proposed transceiver array. Certified approval for clinical studies was provided by a local notified body before the in vivo studies. The suitability of the RF coil to image the human eye, optical nerve, and orbit was examined in an in vivo feasibility study including (a) 3-dimensional (3D) gradient echo (GRE) imaging, (b) inversion recovery 3D GRE imaging, and (c) 2D T2-weighted fast spin-echo imaging. For this purpose, healthy adult volunteers (n = 17; mean age, 34 ± 11 years) and patients with intraocular masses (uveal melanoma, n = 5; mean age, 57 ± 6 years) were investigated.
All subjects tolerated all examinations well with no relevant adverse events. The 6-channel coil array supports high-resolution 3D GRE imaging with a spatial resolution as good as 0.2 × 0.2 × 1.0 mm3, which facilitates the depiction of anatomical details of the eye. Rather, uniform signal intensity across the eye was found. A mean signal-to-noise ratio of approximately 35 was found for the lens, whereas the vitreous humor showed a signal-to-noise ratio of approximately 30. The lens-vitreous humor contrast-to-noise ratio was 8, which allows good differentiation between the lens and the vitreous compartment. Inversion recovery prepared 3D GRE imaging using a spatial resolution of 0.4 × 0.4 × 1.0 mm3 was found to be feasible. T2-weighted 2D fast spin-echo imaging with the proposed RF coil afforded a spatial resolution of 0.25 × 0.25 × 0.7 mm3.
This work provides valuable information on the feasibility of ophthalmic MRI at 7 T using a dedicated 6-channel transceiver coil array that supports the acquisition of high-contrast, high–spatial resolution images in healthy volunteers and patients with intraocular masses. The results underscore the challenges of ocular imaging at 7 T and demonstrate that these issues can be offset by using tailored RF coil hardware. The benefits of such improvements would be in positive alignment with explorations that are designed to examine the potential of MRI for the assessment of spatial arrangements of the eye segments and their masses with the ultimate goal to provide imaging means for guiding treatment decisions in ophthalmological diseases.
From the *Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility (B.U.F.F.), Max-Delbrueck-Center for Molecular Medicine; †MRI.TOOLS GmbH, Berlin; ‡Department of Ophthalmology, University of Rostock, Rostock; §Institute for Diagnostic Radiology and Neuroradiology, University of Greifswald, Greifswald; and ∥Experimental and Clinical Research Center (a joint cooperation between the Charité Medical Faculty and the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine Campus Berlin Buch), Berlin, Germany.
Received for publication June 29, 2013; and accepted for publication, after revision, January 24, 2014.
Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: This work was funded in part by a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the REMEDIS consortium “Höhere Lebensqualität durch neuartige Mikroimplantate” (FKZ: 03IS2081).
Reprints: Thoralf Niendorf, PhD, Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility (B.U.F.F.), Max-Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine, Robert-Roessle-Strasse 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.