The birdcage (BC) coil is currently being utilized for uniform radiofrequency (RF) transmit/receive (Tx/Rx) or Tx-only configuration in many magnetic resonance (MR) imaging applications, but insufficient magnetic flux (|B1|) density and their non-uniform distribution still exists in high-field (HF) environments. We demonstrate that the asymmetric birdcage (ABC) transmit/receive (Tx/Rx) volume coil, which is a modified standard birdcage (SBC) coil with the end ring split into two halves, is suitable for improving the |B1| sensitivity in 7T small-animal MR imaging. Cylindrical SBC and ABC coils with 35 mm diameter were constructed and bench tested for mouse body MR imaging at 300 MHz using a 7T scanner. To assess the ABC coil performance, computational electromagnetic (EM) simulation and 7T MR experiment were performed by using a cylindrical phantom and in vivo mouse body and quantitatively compared with the SBC coil in terms of |B1| distribution, RF transmit (|B1+|) field, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The bench measurements of the two BC coils are similar, yielding a quality value (Q-value) of 74.42 for the SBC coil and 77.06 for the ABC coil. The computational calculation results clearly show that the proposed ABC coil offers superior |B1| field and |B1+| field sensitivity in the central axial slice compared with the SBC coil. There was also high SNR and uniformly distributed flip angle (FA) under the loaded condition of mouse body in the 7T experiment. Although ABC geometry allows a further increase in the |B1| field and |B1+| field sensitivity in only the central axial slice, the geometrical modification of the SBC coil can make a high performance RF coil feasible in the central axial slice and also make target imaging possible in the diagonal direction.
2017 by Japanese Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine