Monitoring the Coldhead of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Systems by Means of Vibration Analysis
Journal of sensor technology
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems require a cooling close to the absolute zero point. This is necessary to avoid thermal losses due to the extremely high currents in the coils of the electromagnet used to generate the static magnetic field. The cooling is usually achieved using helium based refrigerating machine. The coldhead is an important and critical mechanical component in this system. An inefficient or failed coldhead can lead to severe damages to the MRI system or to the loss of
... or to the loss of helium. Hence, a continuous and reliable monitoring of this system component is necessary but not always available. To tackle this problem, we propose a monitoring system by means of analyzing the structure-borne noises caused by the mechanical activities of the coldhead. For this purpose, a measurement system based on piezoelectric elements was designed and implemented. Vibrations were measured at various locations at the MRI scanner with and without MR imaging. In all positions, the function of the coldhead could be detected. Hence, the developed system is suitable for monitoring an MRI's coldhead without directly accessing the MR scanner's hardware or software. For a future long-term monitoring, the aim is to predict a failure of the MRI's coldhead based on changes in the vibrations signals.