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Advances in magnetic resonance imaging of the human brain at 4.7 tesla Open Access


Other title
Magnetic resonance imaging
Susceptibility weighted imaging
Brain iron
High field imaging
Multiple sclerosis
Fast spin echo
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lebel, Robert
Supervisor and department
Wilman, Alan (Biomedical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Martin, Wayne (Neurology)
Beaulieu, Christian (Biomedical Engineering)
De Zanche, Nicola (Oncology)
Thompson, Richard (Biomedical Engineering)
MacKay, Alex (Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia)
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Magnetic resonance imaging is an essential tool for assessing soft tissues. The desire for increased signal-to-noise and improved tissue contrast has spurred development of imaging systems operating at magnetic fields exceeding 3.0 Tesla (T). Unfortunately, traditional imaging methods are of limited utility on these systems. Novel imaging methods are required to exploit the potential of high field systems and enable innovative clinical studies. This thesis presents methodological advances for human brain imaging at 4.7 T. These methods are applied to assess sub-cortical gray matter in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Safety concerns regarding energy deposition in the patient precludes the use of traditional fast spin echo (FSE) imaging at 4.7 T. Reduced and variable refocusing angles were employed to effectively moderate this energy deposition while maintaining high signal levels; an assortment of time-efficient FSE images are presented. Contrast changes were observed at low angles, but images maintained a clinically useful appearance. Heterogeneous transmit fields hinder the measurement of transverse relaxation times. A post-processing technique was developed to model the salient signal behaviour and enable accurate transverse relaxometry. This method is robust to transmit variations observed at 4.7 T and improves multislice imaging efficiency. Gradient echo sequences can exploit the magnetic susceptibility difference between tissues to enhance contrast, but are corrupted near air/tissue interfaces. A correction method was developed and employed to reliably produce a multitude of quantitative and qualitative image sets. Using these techniques, transverse relaxation times and susceptibility field shifts were measured in sub-cortical nuclei of relapsing-remitting MS patients. Abnormalities in the globus pallidus and pulvinar nucleus were observed in all quantitative methods; most other regions differed on one or more measures. Correlations with disease duration were not observed, reaffirming that the disease process commences prior to symptom onset. The methods presented in this thesis enable efficient qualitative and quantitative imaging at high field strength. Unique challenges, notably patient safety and field variability, were overcome via sequence implementation and data processing. These techniques enable visualization and measurement of unique contrast mechanisms, which reveal insight into neurodegenerative diseases, including widespread sub-cortical gray matter damage in MS.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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