Magnetic resonance imaging of the inner ear by using a hybrid radiofrequency coil at 7 T

Kyoung Nam Kim, Phil Heo, Young Bo Kim, Gyu Cheol Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Visualization of the membranous structures of the inner ear has been limited to the detection of the normal fluid signal intensity within the bony labyrinth by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipped with a 1.5 Tesla (T) magnet. High-field (HF) MRI has been available for more than a decade, and numerous studies have documented its significant advantages over conventional MRI with regards to its use in basic scientific research and routine clinical assessments. No previous studies of the inner ear by using HF MRI have been reported, in part because high-quality resolution of mastoid pneumatization is challenging due to artifacts generated in the HF environment and insufficient performance of radiofrequency (RF) coils. Therefore, a hybrid RF coil with integrated circuitry was developed at 7 T and was targeted for anatomical imaging to achieve a high resolution image of the structure of the human inner ear, excluding the bony portion. The inner-ear’s structure is composed of soft tissues containing hydrogen ions and includes the membranous labyrinth, endolymphatic space, perilymphatic space, and cochlear-vestibular nerves. Visualization of the inner-ear’s anatomy was performed in-vivo with a custom-designed hybrid RF coil and a specific imaging protocol based on an interpolated breath-held examination sequence. The comparative signal intensity value at 30-mm away from the phantom side was 88% higher for the hybrid RF coil and 24% higher for the 8-channel transmit/receive (Tx/Rx) coil than for the commercial birdcage coil. The optimized MRI protocol employed a hybrid RF coil because it enabled high-resolution imaging of the inner-ear’s anatomy and accurate mapping of structures including the cochlea and the semicircular canals. These results indicate that 7 T MRI achieves high spatial resolution visualization of the inner-ear’s anatomy. Therefore, MRI imaging using a hybrid RF coil at 7 T could provide a powerful tool for clinical investigations of petrous pathologies of the inner ear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Korean Physical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 7 Tesla
  • Hybrid coil
  • Inner ear
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Radiofrequency (RF) coil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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