MRI coil designed for use in preclinical studies offers 3 times the resolution of commercial coils

Researchers at ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, Russia, have developed an MRI coil that can produce images with three times the resolution of a commercial volume coil, according to a study published in NMR in Biomedicine. The team designed the coil for use in preclinical studies.

Since preclinical studies are largely conducted in animals, the new coil has the ability to image whole bodies of mice in high-res, co-author Anna Khurshkainen, a graduate student at ITMO and member of the Laboratory of Nanophotonics and Metamaterials, said in a release from the university. To get full-body images scientists either need to combine images from several smaller receiving coils or use one big standard coil for emitting and receiving, sacrificing image quality.

“Standard coils are tuned to a particular frequency using non-magnetic capacitors,” Khurshkainen said. “They introduce internal losses, reducing the signal-to-noise ratio. Since our coil is self-resonant, we do not need any capacitors.”

The coil Khurshkainen’s team designed is specially adapted to scan something the size of a mouse, she said, which also helps reduce noise in the imaging suite. Coil size was reduced by using a metastructure with a distributed capacity, and the resulting product was one with an alternating magnetic field intensity higher than that seen in standard products.

“We can tune the coil by changing the geometric parameters,” Khurshkainen said. “Also, new design allows us to optimize how the coil works, increase its sensitivity and image quality. Besides, the cost of raw materials is low, and the manufacturing technology allows us to adapt the method for various projects.”