Microcontroller-based circuitry was built and tested for automatically tuning flexible RF receiver coils at the touch of a button. This circuitry is robust to 10% changes in probe center frequency, is in line with the scanner, and requires less than 1 s to tune a simple probe. Images were acquired using this circuitry with a varactor-tunable 1-inch flexible probe in a phantom and in an in vitro porcine knee model. The phantom experiments support the use of automatic tuning by demonstrating 30% signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) losses for 5% changes in coil center frequency, in agreement with theoretical calculations. Comparisons between patellofemoral cartilage images obtained using a 3-inch surface coil and the surgically-implanted 1-inch flexible coil reveal a worst-case local SNR advantage of a factor of 4 for the smaller coil. This work confirms that surgically implanted coils can greatly improve resolution in small-field-of-view (FOV) applications, and demonstrates the importance and feasibility of automatically tuning such probes.
View details for DOI 10.1002/mrm.20616
View details for Web of Science ID 000232348000027
View details for PubMedID 16155871