Research Group 7 Tesla: Multinuclear Imaging

Research group leader: Dr. Nicolas Behl

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Dr. Nicolas Behl
Medical Physics in Radiology 
Research Group 7 Tesla: Multinuclear Imaging

Tel:  +49 6221 42 4943
Fax: +49 6221 42 3058
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Besides conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), where the magnetization of 1H nuclei is measured, other atomic nuclei with spin I > 0 can be used for signal detection. In our research group we are developing methods to acquire in-vivo images of the sodium (23Na), potassium (39K), chloride (35Cl), oxygen (17O), and phosphorus (31P) content. These nuclei are of special interest in clinical research, because of their crucial role in many cellular processes. For instance, 23Na, 39K, and 35Cl concentrations strongly depend on the physiologic condition of the cell. And 17O MRI can be used to directly access the oxygen consumption non-invasively.
The requirements for X-nuclei imaging are strongly associated with their atomic properties. For instance, many nuclei possess a spin of >1/2 and thus exhibit very short relaxation times. Furthermore, the in vivo concentration of X-nuclei is orders of magnitude lower compared to the concentration of 1H. However, the physical properties of the quadrupolar nuclei (e.g. 17O, 23Na, 35Cl, 39K) can be utilized to generate special imaging contrasts (e.g. triple quantum filtered imaging).
The aim of this research group is to develop innovative imaging techniques for MRI with X-nuclei, considering the criteria mentioned above. While 23Na images only offer low spatial resolution and a low signal-to-noise ratio, high resolution 1H images can be acquired. Both nuclei provide images with anatomical information, what results in strong overlap of the contained information. We therefore use the prior information from 1H MRI to improve image quality of X-nuclei MRI via iterative image reconstruction techniques. Furthermore, models are developed that in combination with optimized imaging techniques can describe cellular processes - as oxygen consumption and the functionality of the sodium potassium pump.

Research topics

Co-registered colormap of the cerebral O-17-concentration in the human brain. More detailed representation: O-17-MRI
© dkfz.de

Selected slices of 7 Tesla Na-23-MRI data set of the healthy human brain. More detailed representation: Na-23-MRI
© dkfz.de

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