High-permittivity pad design tool for 7T neuroimaging and 3T body imaging

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Purpose: High-permittivity materials in the form of flexible “dielectric pads” have proved very useful for addressing RF inhomogeneities in high field MRI systems. Finding the optimal design of such pads is, however, a tedious task, reducing the impact of this technique. We present an easy-to-use software tool which allows researchers and clinicians to design dielectric pads efficiently on standard computer systems, for 7T neuroimaging and 3T body imaging applications. Methods: The tool incorporates advanced computational methods based on field decomposition and model order reduction as a framework to efficiently evaluate the B1
+ fields resulting from dielectric pads. The tool further incorporates optimization routines which can either optimize the position of a given dielectric pad, or perform a full parametric design. The optimization procedure can target either a single target field, or perform a sweep to explore the trade-off between homogeneity and efficiency of the B1
+ field in a specific region of interest. The 3T version further allows for shifting of the imaging landmark to enable different imaging targets to be centered in the body coil. Results: Example design results are shown for imaging the inner ear at 7T and for cardiac imaging at 3T. Computation times for all cases are approximately a minute per target field. Conclusion: The developed tool can be easily used to design dielectric pads for any 7T neuroimaging and 3T body imaging application within minutes. This bridges the gap between the advanced design methods and the practical application by the MR community.