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Physics  2004 

3He Lung Imaging in an Open Access, Very-Low-Field Human MRI System

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The human lung and its functions are extremely sensitive to gravity, however the conventional high-field magnets used for most laser-polarized 3He MRI of the human lung restrict subjects to lying horizontally. Imaging of human lungs using inhaled laser-polarized 3He gas is demonstrated in an open-access very-low-magnetic-field (< 5 mT) MRI instrument. This prototype device employs a simple, low-cost electromagnet, with an open geometry that allows variation of the orientation of the imaging subject in a two-dimensional plane. As a demonstration, two-dimensional lung images were acquired with 4 mm in-plane resolution from a subject in two orientations: lying supine, and sitting in a vertical position with one arm raised. Experience with this prototype device will guide optimization of a second-generation very-low-field imager to enable studies of human pulmonary physiology as a function of subject orientation.


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