Contemporary approaches to high-field magnetic resonance imaging with large field inhomogeneity

Michael Mullen, Michael Garwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Despite its importance as a clinical imaging modality, magnetic resonance imaging remains inaccessible to most of the world's population due to its high cost and infrastructure requirements. Substantial effort is underway to develop portable, low-cost systems able to address MRI access inequality and to enable new uses of MRI such as bedside imaging. A key barrier to development of portable MRI systems is increased magnetic field inhomogeneity when using small polarizing magnets, which degrades image quality through distortions and signal dropout. Many approaches address field inhomogeneity by using a low polarizing field, approximately ten to hundreds of milli-Tesla. At low-field, even a large relative field inhomogeneity of several thousand parts-per-million (ppm) results in resonance frequency dispersion of only 1–2 kHz. Under these conditions, with necessarily wide pulse bandwidths, fast spin-echo sequences may be used at low field with negligible subject heating, and a broad range of other available imaging sequences can be implemented. However, high-field MRI, 1.5 T or greater, can provide substantially improved signal-to-noise ratio and image contrast, so that higher spatial resolution, clinical quality images may be acquired in significantly less time than is necessary at low-field. The challenge posed by small, high-field systems is that the relative field inhomogeneity, still thousands of ppm, becomes tens of kilohertz over the imaging volume. This article describes the physical consequences of field inhomogeneity on established gradient- and spin-echo MRI sequences, and suggests ways to reduce signal dropout and image distortion from field inhomogeneity. Finally, the practicality of currently available image contrasts is reviewed when imaging with a high magnetic field with large inhomogeneity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-108
Number of pages14
JournalProgress in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
StatePublished - Nov 18 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health grants U01 EB025153 and P41 EB015894 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Field inhomogeneity
  • Frequency-swept
  • Portable MRI


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