Successful implementation of homogeneous slice-selective RF excitation in the human brain at 9.4T using 16-channel parallel transmission (pTX) is demonstrated. A novel three-step pulse design method incorporating fast real-time measurement of eddy current induced B0 variations as well as correction of resulting phase errors during excitation is described. To demonstrate the utility of the proposed method, phantom and in-vivo experiments targeting a uniform excitation in an axial slice were conducted using two-spoke pTX pulses. Even with the pre-emphasis activated, eddy current induced B0 variations with peak-to-peak values greater than 4 kHz were observed on our system during the rapid switches of slice selective gradients. This large B0 variation, when not corrected, resulted in drastically degraded excitation fidelity with the coefficient of variation (CV) of the flip angle calculated for the region of interest being large (∼12% in the phantom and ∼35% in the brain). By comparison, excitation fidelity was effectively restored, and satisfactory flip angle uniformity was achieved when using the proposed method, with the CV value reduced to ∼3% in the phantom and ∼8% in the brain. Additionally, experimental results were in good agreement with the numerical predictions obtained from Bloch simulations. Slice-selective flip angle homogenization in the human brain at 9.4T using 16-channel 3D spoke pTX pulses is achievable despite of large eddy current induced excitation phase errors; correcting for the latter was critical in this success.
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The authors have read the journal's policy and have the following conflicts: consultant to Agilent Technologies and receive research grant from Siemens. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.