PURPOSE: To investigate the influence of the sodium (Na) reference tube location in a birdcage coil on the quantification of Na in the calf muscle. Two correction methods were also evaluated.
METHOD: Eight (4 × 20 mM, 4 × 30 mM Na) reference tubes were placed along the inner surface of the coil and one (30 mM Na) tube more centrally near the tibia. In two volunteers, four repeated UTE scans were acquired. In six calf muscles, the Na concentration was calculated based on each reference tube. Flip angle mapping of a homogenous Na phantom was used for correcting intensity values. Alternatively, a normalized intensity map was used for correcting the in vivo signal intensities. Results were given as range or SD of Na concentration measurements over the reference tubes.
RESULTS: For calf Na measurements, there was limited space for positioning reference tubes away from coil B1 inhomogeneity. In both volunteers, the Na quantification depended greatly on the reference tube used with a range of up to 10 mM. The central tube location gave a Na quantification close to the mean of the other tubes. The flip angle and normalized signal intensity phantom-based correction methods decreased the quantification variation from 14.9% to 5.0% and 10.4% to 2.7%, respectively. Both correction methods had little influence (< 2.3%) on quantification based on the central tube.
CONCLUSION: Despite use of a birdcage coil, location of the reference tube had a great impact on Na quantification in the calf muscles. Although both correction methods did reduce this variation, placing the reference tube more centrally was found to give the most reliable results.