Computed Tomography (CT) is often used for building 3D biomechanical models of human anatomy. This method exposes the subject to a significant x-ray dose and provides limited soft-tissue contrast. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a potential alternative to CT for this application, as MRI offers significantly better soft-tissue contrast and does not expose the subject to ionizing radiation. However, MRI requires long scan times to achieve 3D images at sufficient resolution, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR). These long scan times can make subject motion a problem. This thesis describes my work to reduce scan time while achieving sufficient resolution, SNR, and CNR for 3D biomechanical modeling of (1) the human larynx, and (2) the human hip. I focused on two important strategies for reducing scan time and improving SNR and CNR: the design of RF coils optimized to detect MRI signals from the anatomy of interest, and the determination of MRI relaxation properties of the tissues being imaged (allowing optimization of imaging parameters to improve CNR between tissues). Work on the larynx was done in collaboration with the Thomson group in Mechanical Engineering at BYU. To produce a high-resolution 3D image of the larynx, a 2-channel phased array was constructed. Eight different coil element designs were analyzed for use in the array, and one chosen that provided the highest Q-ratio while still meeting the mechanical constraints of the problem. The phased array was tested by imaging a pig larynx, a good substitute for the human larynx. Excellent image quality was achieved and MR relaxometry was then performed on tissues in the larynx. The work on the hip was done in collaboration with the Anderson group in orthopedics at the University of Utah, who are building models of femoral acetabular impingement (FAI). Accurate imaging of hip cartilage requires injection of fluid into the hip joint capsule while in traction. To optimize contrast, MR relaxometry measurements were performed on saline, isovue, and lidocaine solutions (all typically injected into the hip). Our analysis showed that these substances actually should not be used for MR imaging of the hip, and alternate strategies should be explored as a result.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





biomechanical modeling, MRI, MRI coils, T1 relaxation, T2 relaxation, pig larynx, high resolution MRI images, MR relaxometry, human hip