PURPOSE: A novel silent imaging method is proposed that combines a gradient insert oscillating at the inaudible frequency 20 kHz with slew rate-limited gradient waveforms to form a silent gradient axis that enable quiet and fast imaging.
METHODS: The gradient insert consisted of a plug-and-play (45 kg) single axis z-gradient, which operated as an additional fourth gradient axis. This insert was made resonant using capacitors and combined with an audio amplifier to allow for operation at 20 kHz. The gradient field was characterized using field measurements and the physiological effects of operating a gradient field at 20 kHz were explored using peripheral nerve stimulation experiments, tissue heating simulations and sound measurements. The imaging sequence consisted of a modified gradient-echo sequence which fills k-space in readout lanes with a width proportional to the oscillating gradient amplitude. The feasibility of the method was demonstrated in-vivo using 2D and 3D gradient echo (GRE) sequences which were reconstructed using a conjugate-gradient SENSE reconstruction.
RESULTS: Field measurements yielded a maximum gradient amplitude and slew rate of 40.8 mT/m and 5178T/m/s at 20 kHz. Physiological effects such as peripheral nerve stimulation and tissue heating were found not to be limiting at this amplitude and slew rate. For a 3D GRE sequence, a maximum sound level of 85 db(A) was measured during scanning. Imaging experiments using the silent gradient axis produced artifact free images while also featuring a 5.3-fold shorter scan time than a fully sampled acquisition.
CONCLUSION: A silent gradient axis provides a novel pathway to fast and quiet brain imaging.