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Home RBCS ■ Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The focus of our research is the development of new hardware and techniques for MRI with special reference to the development and the design of an open scanner for functional resonance imaging (fMRI) investigations of people in a natural posture as this is an important factor in the study of the motor system.

Our efforts are also devoted to the study and improvement of MRI and fMRI imaging techniques, such as the development of high performance gradient, efficient acquisition techniques, and brain tractography.

Research topics:

Brain MRI Scanner Gradient Coil Sistem Design and Acquisition Techniques Brain Functional and Anatomical Connectivity
alt This project aims at the realization of an high field open scanner for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for functional investigations on sitting and active subjects. alt The goal of the whole project is to create a tool for the design of gradient and shim coils wound on arbitrary surfaces, especially with geometrical configurations comprising iron structures. alt Our activity focuses on reconstructing white matter architecture by Diffusion-Weighted(DW) Imaging, a continuously growing MRI technique, able to detect diffusion characteristics of water in the living tissue.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS:


  • *Campanella M., *Molinari E., Baraldi P., Nocetti L., Porro C. A. and Alexander D. (2013)
    An algorithm to estimate anatomical connectivity between brain regions using diffusion MRI
    Magnetic Resonance Imaging, vol. 31, (no. 3), pp. 353-358
  • *Borceto A., Damiani A., Viale A., *Bertora F. and Marabotto R. (2013)
    Engineering Design of a Special Purpose Functional Magnetic Resonance Scanner Magnet
    IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity
  • *Bertora F., *Borceto A., *Viale A. and Fabbricatore P. (2012)
    A Target Field Approach to Open MRI Magnet Design
    IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 22, (no. 3), pp. 4905204
alt Brain MRI Scanner
People involved:

Franco Bertora, Alice Borceto

This project aims at the realization of an high field open scanner for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for functional investigations on sitting and active subjects. The availability of such device opens up boundless possibilities, not only for the research community, e.g. reaching and grasping studies, classic psychophysics experiments and interactions studies, but also for industries in which ergonomics optimizations are crucial, such as automotive and transport companies.

The magnet that has been designed allows the investigation of brain's functions in subjects able to see and interact with the external environment, be it an object or people or a machine. The proposed structure is composed of 5 pairs of superconducting coils (1 for each pole of the magnet), arranged in an open geometry and designed by means of the multicoil approach. It is based on the optimization of several key parameters for the design of an open scanner, such as central field homogeneity, flux leakage, maximum current density, pole diameter, gap size as well as conductor length.

The positions of the coils are optimized such that the magnet generates central magnetic fields of 2 T for a Diameter Spherical Volume (DSV) of 250 mm, with 150 ppm of raw homogeneity. The system is self shielded with a 5 Gauss footprint of approximately 4.3 m x 5.3 m. The coils do not exhibit rectangular cross-section, which makes the winding more challenging, but still possible, offering the counterpart a reduction of cable length and hence of cost.

The scanner, that has been conceived as a functional MRI (fMRI) machine, could be also employed in different interchangeable scenarios, ranging from clinical practice to a research facility, i.e.:

  • as a new research platform that will offer to the scientific community the possibility to perform MRI procedures that are essential in cognitive neuroscience studies, such as fMRI and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), with subject in the upright position, able to interact with the environment, both visually and operationally
  • as an interventional unit for neurosurgery applications with real-time functional mapping
  • as a clinical system able to overcome claustrophobia issues related to traditional cylindrical scanner configurations and with a field intensity high enough to perform fMRI technique
Brain MRI Scanner A: An image of the magnet whose technical feasibility has been thoroughly evaluated.
B: Central field homogeneity in ppm and 5 Gauss stray field line (scale in meters).

*Bertora F., *Borceto A., *Viale A. and Fabbricatore P. (2012)
A Target Field Approach to Open MRI Magnet Design
IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, vol. 22, (no. 3), pp. 4905204

F. Bertora, P. Fabbricatore, A. Viale, A. Borceto and G. Sandini
Complesso magnetico aperto a tre facce attive, particolarmente per la formazione di immagini per risonanza magnetica
Patent Application TO2011A000290 March 31,2011

*Borceto A., Damiani A., Viale A., *Bertora F. and Marabotto R. (2013)
Engineering Design of a Special Purpose Functional Magnetic Resonance Scanner Magnet
IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity

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alt Gradient Coil Sistem Design and Acquisition Techniques
People involved:

Franco Bertora, Alice Borceto

Gradient coils are a key component of an MRI scanner.
In the design of this system several competing requirements have to be satisfied.
The system performance is strongly dependent on geometry and, in the case of scanners comprising iron yokes, it is heavily affected by the presence of iron structures that negatively interact with the gradient, causing unwanted image distortions.

The goal of the whole project is to create a tool for the design of gradient and shim coils wound on arbitrary surfaces, especially with geometrical configurations comprising iron structures.

Among all the methodologies of modeling the effect of the iron that have been investigated, the Inverse Boundary Elements Method (IBEM) has been the choice. The IBEM method has been endowed with additional features to take into account the presence of the iron since the design stage, by means of the mirror coil method and also to assess the quality of a shielded system through the definition of a shielding factor.
Gradient Coil Sistem Design and Acquisition Techniques A: Comparison of coil performances without taking into account the presence of the iron (Air) and modeling the effect of iron structures (Mirror, BEM, Opera). The coils parameters are highly affected by the presence of the iron. The more accurate the model is, the worse dis-proportionally becomes its time performance.
B: Comparison between an anatomical image obtained with a standard acquistion technique and an image reconstructed from 1/3 of initial samples.

*Borceto A., *Viale A., Bertora L., Bowtell R. and *Bertora F. (2012)
Conventional and Linked Gradient Coil Designs: a Comparative Study
International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 20th Annual Meeting

Borceto A., Viale A., Bertora F., Bertora L. and Bowtell R. (2011)
Distortion of Gradient Coils Performances in Presence of Iron
International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 19th Annual Meeting

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alt Brain Functional and Anatomical Connectivity
People involved:

Luciano Fadiga, Martina Campanella

An MRI based integrated approach allows the study of the structural and functional organization of the human cortex in healthy and pathological conditions. Our activity focuses on reconstructing white matter architecture by Diffusion-Weighted(DW) Imaging, a continuously growing MRI technique, able to detect diffusion characteristics of water in the living tissue. A recently developed application is "tractography", in which information from brain images can be used to reconstruct the pathways which connect together areas of the brain activated in a particular cognitive task. In addition, DWMRI tractography may be exploited to explore tumor-induced alterations of white matter architecture, since conventional structural MR technique is very good at identifying brain tumors but does not provide exhaustive information about the integrity of the surrounding/embedded tissue.

Brain Functional and Anatomical Connectivity A straight-forward algorithm to identify the set of pathways between two regions of interests has been developed.
Performances from single fibre tractography,using diffusion tensor imaging, and multi-fibre tractography using Persistent Angular Structure (PAS) MRI on standard DWI datasets from healthy human volunteers are compared.
Results show that single fibre tractography often misses important connections and the multifibre techniques reveal additional routes of connection. PAS-MRI shows the most extensive connecting pathways.

*Campanella M., *Molinari E., Baraldi P., Nocetti L., Porro C. A. and Alexander D. (2013)
An algorithm to estimate anatomical connectivity between brain regions using diffusion MRI
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, vol. 31, (no. 3), pp. 353-358

*Molinari E., Baraldi P., *Campanella M., Duzzi D., Nocetti L., Pagnoni G. and Porro C. A. (2013)
Human parietofrontal networks related to action observation detected at rest
Cerebral Cortex, vol. 23, (no. 1), pp. 178-186, 1460-2199

M. Campanella, T. Ius,M. Skrap, L. Fadiga
Fiber Pathways Alteration Reveals Brain Tumor Typology
ISMRM 21st Annual Meeting, 20-26 April, 2013, Salt Lake City

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Last Updated on Friday, 22 May 2015 10:53

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