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Magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy of the spinal cord stand to benefit greatly from the increased signal-to-noise ratio of ultra-high field. However, ultra-high field also poses considerable technical challenges, especially related to static and dynamic B0 fields. Breathing causes the field to fluctuate with the respiratory cycle, giving rise to artifacts such as ghosting and apparent motion in images. We here investigated the spatial and temporal characteristics of breathing-induced B0 fields in the cervical spinal cord at 7T. We analyzed the magnitude and spatial profile of breathing-induced fields during breath-holds in an expired and inspired breathing state. We also measured the temporal field evolution during free breathing by acquiring a time series of fast phase images, and a principal component analysis was performed on the measured field evolution. In all subjects, the field shift was largest around the vertebral level of C7 and lowest at the top of the spinal cord. At C7, we measured peak-to-peak field fluctuations of 36 Hz on average during normal free breathing; increasing to on average 113 Hz during deep breathing. The first principal component could explain more than 90% of the field variations along the foot-head axis inside the spinal cord in all subjects. We further implemented a proof-of-principle shim correction, demonstrating the feasibility of using the shim system to compensate for the breathing-induced fields inside the spinal cord. Effective correction strategies will be crucial to unlock the full potential of ultra-high field for spinal cord imaging.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





191 - 202


7T, B(0) field fluctuations, Breathing, MRI, Physiological noise, Spinal cord, Adult, Artifacts, Cervical Cord, Female, Humans, Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Respiration, Young Adult