MR imaging of sodium in the human brain with a fast three-dimensional gradient-recalled-echo sequence at 4 T

David B. Clayton, Robert E. Lenkinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Rationale and Objectives. Sodium ions play a vital role in cellular homeostasis and electrochemical activity throughout the human body. However, the in vivo detection of sodium (23Na) with magnetic resonance (MR) techniques is hindered by the fast transverse relaxation, low tissue equivalent concentration, and small gyromagnetic ratio of sodium ions compared with protons (1H). The goals of this study were to acquire MR images of sodium in the whole human brain by using a fast three-dimensional gradient-recalled-echo sequence and to investigate the effect that restrictions on specific absorption ratio have on MR imaging of sodium at 4 T. Materials and Methods. A three-dimensional gradient-recalled-echo sequence with short echo time was developed for MR imaging of sodium. Slab encoding was removed and a hard excitation pulse was used. Five healthy human volunteers were examined in a whole-body MR imager with the use of a custom transmit-and-receive birdcage coil. Fields of view were selected to cover the entire brain: 38 × 38 cm in the axial plane, with 24 sections of 5.8 mm each or 12 sections of 1.1 cm each. The in-plane acquisition matrix was 64 × 128, and voxel size was 0.2 cm3. Results. Sodium in white matter was depicted with an acceptable signal-to-noise ratio of 20-25. The echo time, and hence the signal-to-noise ratio, was limited by the MR imager's maximum allowable gradient strength. To keep the specific absorption ratio below 3 W/kg (the limit established by the Food and Drug Administration), it was necessary to prolong the repetition time to 30 msec. Conclusion. The MR imaging protocol used in this study provided acceptable visualization of sodium in the whole brain in a tolerable total acquisition time of 15 minutes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-365
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Brain, MR
  • Brain, white matter
  • Magnetic resonance, sodium studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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