Since the advent of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, systems with a magnetic field intensity of 1.5 tesla (T) have been deemed the gold standard for different clinical applications in all body areas. Ongoing advances in hardware and software have made these MR systems increasingly compact, powerful and versatile, leading to the development of higher magnetic field strength MR systems (3.0 T) for use in clinical practice and for research purposes. As usually occurs with a new technology, 3.0 T MR imaging units will probably follow the same development trends in the years to come.
These new systems are currently in routine use mainly in the United States, but despite their high cost they are increasingly being adopted for research in much broader fields than those of conventional MR systems, and also in daily clinical practice for new, more sophisticated applications, bringing major practical benefits.
Results to date have been encouraging with respect to previous experience with lower field strength MR systems and show that the many advantages of 3.0 T imaging (high signal, high resolution, high sensitivity, shorter imaging times, additional more advanced study procedures and enhanced diagnostic capacity) will ensure it becomes the future standard for morphofunctional study of the brain.
When future technological advances have resolved some of the shortcomings of the new 3.0 T systems (inhomogeneity of the field, artefacts caused by susceptibility and chemical shift, elevated SAR, high costs), the current MR units will gradually be replaced by higher field strength MR imaging systems.
The 3.0 T MR systems of the future will offer morphological investigation with high spatial, temporal and contrast resolution (essential for diagnosis) and will also yield physiological, metabolic and functional information, enhancing the diagnostic power of routine MR imaging in terms of sensitivity and specificity both in clinical practice and for applied research purposes.
This volume includes papers on the techniques and semeiotics of morphofunc-tional cerebral imaging at 3.0 T (including reference to the advantages and drawbacks with respect to lower field strength MR systems) and the main clinical applications in neuroradiology.
We are grateful to Dr. Silvia Modena for the language revision.
Ugo Salvolini Tommaso Scarabino
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