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

  • Author / Creator
    Lebel, Robert
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Wilman, Alan (Biomedical Engineering)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • De Zanche, Nicola (Oncology)
    • Beaulieu, Christian (Biomedical Engineering)
    • Thompson, Richard (Biomedical Engineering)
    • Martin, Wayne (Neurology)
    • MacKay, Alex (Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia)