Double-Row Dipole/Loop Combined Array
Important issues in designing radiofrequency (RF) coils for human head imaging at ultra-high field (UHF, > 7T) are the inhomogeneity and longitudinal coverage (along the magnet axis) of the transmit (Tx) RF field. Both the homogeneity and coverage produced by Tx volume coils can be improved by means of 3D RF shimming, which requires use of multi-row Tx-arrays. In addition, according to recent findings of the ultimate intrinsic SNR theory, the loop-only receive (Rx) arrays don’t provide optimal SNR near the brain center at UHF. The latter can be obtained by combining complementary conductive structures carrying different current patterns, e.g. loops and dipole antennas.
In this work, we developed, constructed, and evaluated a novel 32-element hybrid array design for human head imaging at 7 T. The array consists of 16 transceiver loops placed in two rows circumscribing the head and 16 folded-end Rx-only dipoles positioned in the centers of loops. By placing all elements in a single layer, we increased RF power deposition into the tissue and, thus, preserved the Tx-efficiency. Using this hybrid design also simplifies the coil structure by minimizing the total number of array elements. The array demonstrated whole brain coverage, 3D shimming capability and high SNR. It provided ~15% higher SNR near the brain center and depending on the RF shim mode from 20% to 40% higher Tx-efficiency than a common commercial head array coil.