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Instrumentation and technical development for small animal micro-MRI studies at 7-Tesla

Abstract : The overarching goals of this work are to develop a set of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging methodologies to help study experimental models in the biomedical research. MRI offers a combination of attributes making it appealing as an imaging tool in biomedical research compared to other complementary preclinical imaging modalities such as optical imaging, micro-computed tomography, micro-Positron emission tomography or ultrasound bio-microscopy. The three-dimensional nature of MRI over a large region of interest and the unrivaled endogenous tissue contrast achievable in micrometric resolution make it a very important tool in biomedical research. This is particularly important with the expanding potentials of tissue contrast mechanism it can offer. However, one of the major limitations is its relative low sensitivity and slow throughput. A large part of our efforts have been dedicated to improve the MRI instrumentation and protocols to overcome some of these limitations around the existing MRI scanner in order help better screen both in vivo and ex vivo transgenic mouse models, -the most studied animal model of human diseases. This was assessed in our work with a particular focus on experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease.The description of our work and results build logically and incrementally from in vivo to ex vivo experimental set up starting with tackling the improvement of the first component of the acquisition chain: the MRI probe, also termed radiofrequency (RF) resonator or coil. The scope of the work expands from probes enabling in vivo whole mouse body to headonlyMRI as well as multiple ex vivo sample imaging in order to achieve higher throughput to dedicated instrumentation and set up for direct MR imaging of histology sections. In the introductory chapter (Chapter 1), we describe the set of tools and protocol that enable the characterization of each MRI probe used in our study. The systematic characterization for both existing commercial MRI coils and the one we develop in-house during this work allow for direct comparison of their performance. In chapter 2, we investigate the homogeneous RF resonators dedicated for in vivo studies with a particular focus on birdcage resonators. After examining the main advantages and limitations between low and high pass structures, we introduce the practical steps required to design a high pass birdcage structure aimed at whole mouse body imaging. Examples of serial imaging illustrate the excellent RF coverage of the whole mouse body in order to screen qualitatively the pharmacokinetic properties of newly designed contrast agents. For mouse head imaging, we aimed to increase the coil sensitivity relative to an existing commercial coil by reducing the geometry structure to closely fit the region of interest. The resulting gain in filling factor achieved without compromising the overall homogeneity of the RF field covering the brain region lead to 10% gain in Signal-to- Noise Ratio (SNR) or an equivalent 20% reduction in imaging time [etc...]
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Minh Dung Hoang. Instrumentation and technical development for small animal micro-MRI studies at 7-Tesla. Medical Imaging. Université Claude Bernard - Lyon I, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013LYO10284⟩. ⟨tel-02650745⟩

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