PARALLEL TRANSMISSION (PTX) TECHNIQUES AND APPLICATIONS ON A TRANSCEIVER COIL ARRAY IN HIGH-FIELD MRI

2019-10-17T14:02:19Z (GMT) by Xianglun Mao
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an invaluable tool in health care. Despite its popularity, there is still an ever-increasing need for faster scans and better image quality. Multi-coil MRI, which uses multiple transmit and/or receive coils, holds the potential to address many of these MRI challenges. Multi-coil MRI systems can utilize parallel transmission (pTx) technology using multi-dimensional radio-frequency (RF) pulses for parallel excitation. The pTx platform is shown to be superior in high-field MRI. Therefore, this dissertation is focused on the RF pulse design and optimization on an MRI system with multiple transceiver coils.
This dissertation addresses three major research topics. First, we investigate the optimization of pTx RF pulses when considering both transmitters and receivers of the MRI system. We term this framework multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) MRI. The RF pulse design method is modeled by minimizing the excitation error while simultaneously maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the reconstructed MR image. It further allows a key trade-off between the SNR and the excitation accuracy. Additionally, multiple acceleration factors, different numbers of used receive coils, maximum excitation error tolerance, and different excitation patterns are simulated and analyzed within this model. For a given excitation pattern, our method is shown to improve the SNR by 18-130% under certain acceleration schemes, as compared to conventional parallel transmission methods, while simultaneously controlling the excitation error in a desired scope.
Second, we propose a pTx RF pulse design method that controls the peak local specific absorption rates (SARs) using a compressed set of SAR matrices. RF power, peak local SARs, excitation accuracy, and SNR are simultaneously controlled in the designed pTx RF pulses. An alternative compression method using k-means clustering algorithm is proposed for an upper-bounded estimation of peak local SARs. The performance of the pTx design method is simulated using a human head model and an eight-channel transceiver coil array. The proposed method reduces the 10-g peak local SAR by 44.6-54.2%, as compared to the unconstrained pTx approach, when it has a pre-defined lower bound of SNR and an upper bound of excitation error tolerance. The k-means clustering-based SAR compression model shows its efficiency as it generates a narrower and more accurate overestimation bound than the conventional SAR compression model.
Finally, we propose two machine learning based pTx RF pulse design methods and test them for the ultra-fast pTx RF pulse prediction. The two methods proposed are the kernelized ridge regression (KRR) based pTx RF pulse design and the feedforward neural network (FNN) based pTx RF pulse design. These two methods learn the training pTx RF pulses from the extracted key features of their corresponding B1+ fields. These methods are compared with other supervised learning methods (nearest-neighbor methods, etc.). All learned pTx RF pulses should be reasonably SAR-efficient because training pTx RF pulses are SAR-efficient. Longer computation time and pre-scan time are the drawbacks of the current pTx approach, and we address this issue by instantaneously predicting pTx RF pulses using well-trained machine learning models.