Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) has recently shown potential for allowing nearly real time observation of the working human cortex in a non-invasive manner. Applications for FMRI include research (cognitive neuroscience) and clinical (seizure focus identification). Conventional head and surface coils have resulted in limited signal-to- noise ratios (SNR's) and image distortions due to patient motion have limited the reliability of the technique. The phased array coils proposed here utilize advanced multichannel hardware available on major manufacturer's MRI systems to simultaneously increase SNR and provide coverage of the complete cortex with enhancement in selectable regions. An increase in SNR by a factor of at least 2 is expected for major regions of the cortex. An increase in SNR of at least 15% is expected over the entire brain. An integrated mechanical stabilization system will assure less than +/- 1 mm motion in all three axes to minimize motion artifacts. The completion of phase II will provide a complete optimized FMRI array system on the major phased array MRI systems. This system will combine high SNR, minimal motion artifact, comfort and safety with compatible visual, auditory and tactile stimulation accessory devices. The high level of interest in FMRI should result in 100+ unit sales, generating several million dollars of revenue over two to three years.
The development of a high performance fiinctional MRI coil array system is expected to generate sales from 8% of the 4,000+ US clinical MRI systems. At a nominal cost $40,000 per device, the 300+ sales represent a $12M market. As functional MRI of the brain gains popularity, this figure could increase by a factor of two or three. The head coil array alone could represent an additional $50M+ in sales, as a replacement for inferior existing clinical head coils.