, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 946-959

Whole-body MRI at high field: technical limits and clinical potential

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This review seeks to clarify the most important implications of higher magnetic field strength for clinical examinations of the whole body. An overview is provided on the resulting advantages and disadvantages for anatomical, functional and biochemical magnetic resonance examinations in different regions of the body. It is demonstrated that susceptibility-dependent imaging, chemical shift selective (e.g., fat-suppressed) imaging, and spectroscopic techniques clearly gain from higher field strength. Problems due to shorter wavelength and higher radio frequency energy deposition at higher field strength are reported, especially in examinations of the body trunk. Thorax examinations provided sufficient homogeneity of the radio frequency field for common examination techniques in most cases, whereas abdominal and pelvic imaging was often hampered by undesired dielectric effects. Currently available and potential future strategies to overcome related limitations are discussed. Whole-body MRI at higher field strength currently leads to clearly improved image quality using a variety of established sequence types and for examination of many body regions. But some major problems at higher field strength have to be solved before high-field magnetic resonance systems can really replace the well-established and technically developed magnetic resonance systems operating at 1.5 T for each clinical application.