Explorations into Ultrahigh Field Magnetic Resonance: Discover - Devise - Develop - Deploy
The development of ultrahigh field magnetic resonance (UHF-MR) is moving forward at an amazing speed that is breaking through technical barriers almost as fast as they appear. UHF-MR has a staggering number of potential uses in neuroscience, neurology, radiology, cardiology, internal medicine, physiology, oncology, nephrology, ophthalmology and other related clinical fields. With almost 40,000 MR examinations already performed at 7.0 Tesla, the reasons for moving UHF-MR into clinical applications are more compelling than ever. The value UHF-MR has already proven itself many times over at lower field strengths; now 7.0 T has opened a window on tissues, organs, and (patho) physiological processes that have been largely inaccessible in the past. Images from these instruments have revealed new aspects of the anatomy, functions and physio-metabolic characteristics of the brain, heart, joints, kidneys, liver, eye, and other organs/tissues, at an unparalleled quality. 40,000 sounds like a large number, but in fact we have barely cracked open the door and have yet to truly assess what lies on the other side. To this end this presentation documents advances and progress of UHF-MR with the goal to engage the interest of clinical adopters, basic scientists, engineers, and translational researchers from many areas. To meet this goal the traits, challenges and opportunities for discovery of human UHF-MRI will be surveyed. The considerations run from technical advances to early clinical applications. Examples of UHF-MR strategies are demonstrated. Their added value over the kindred counterparts at lower fields is explored along with an outline of research promises. Encouraging developments into enabling multiple channel radiofrequency (RF) antennae concepts (Figure 1) are reviewed. Frontier applications of MR at 7T are surveyed including cardiac imaging (Figure 1), ophthalmic MRI and high spatial resolution MRI of the brain. Heteronuclear UHF-MR applications are explored with a focus on sodium MRI (Figure 1). Practical obstacles of UHF MR are outlined including MR safety. Insights into RF heating induced by conductive stents and implants are provided. Current trends in UHF-MR are considered together with their clinical implications. A concluding section ventures a glance beyond the horizon including explorations into Extreme Field MR (EF-MR) which envisions human MR at 20 Tesla, which is an important leap of the imagination because it aims to fill a crucial "resolution gap" in our understanding of human biology (39, 40). It is the speakers hope that this presentation will convey the seeds of this vision and inspire the audience to become pioneers in these amazingly promising new areas of biomedical research: ultrahigh field and extreme field MR.