A standard system phantom for magnetic resonance imaging

Karl F. Stupic, Maureen Ainslie, Michael A. Boss, Cecil Charles, Andrew M. Dienstfrey, Jeffrey L. Evelhoch, Paul Finn, Zydrunas Gimbutas, Jeffrey L. Gunter, Derek L.G. Hill, Clifford R. Jack, Edward F. Jackson, Todor Karaulanov, Kathryn E. Keenan, Guoying Liu, Michele N. Martin, Pottumarthi V. Prasad, Nikki S. Rentz, Chun Yuan, Stephen E. Russek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: A standard MRI system phantom has been designed and fabricated to assess scanner performance, stability, comparability and assess the accuracy of quantitative relaxation time imaging. The phantom is unique in having traceability to the International System of Units, a high level of precision, and monitoring by a national metrology institute. Here, we describe the phantom design, construction, imaging protocols, and measurement of geometric distortion, resolution, slice profile, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), proton-spin relaxation times, image uniformity and proton density. Methods: The system phantom, designed by the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine ad hoc committee on Standards for Quantitative MR, is a 200 mm spherical structure that contains a 57-element fiducial array; two relaxation time arrays; a proton density/SNR array; resolution and slice-profile insets. Standard imaging protocols are presented, which provide rapid assessment of geometric distortion, image uniformity, T1 and T2 mapping, image resolution, slice profile, and SNR. Results: Fiducial array analysis gives assessment of intrinsic geometric distortions, which can vary considerably between scanners and correction techniques. This analysis also measures scanner/coil image uniformity, spatial calibration accuracy, and local volume distortion. An advanced resolution analysis gives both scanner and protocol contributions. SNR analysis gives both temporal and spatial contributions. Conclusions: A standard system phantom is useful for characterization of scanner performance, monitoring a scanner over time, and to compare different scanners. This type of calibration structure is useful for quality assurance, benchmarking quantitative MRI protocols, and to transition MRI from a qualitative imaging technique to a precise metrology with documented accuracy and uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1194-1211
Number of pages18
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • MRI standards
  • phantom
  • quality assurance
  • quantitative MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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