Large production system for hyperpolarized Xe-129 for human lung imaging studies


Rationale and Objectives. Hyperpolarized gases such as Xe-129 and He-3 have high potential as imaging agents for functional lung magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We present new technology offering Xe-129 production rates with order-of-magnitude improvement over existing systems, to liter per hour at 50% polarization., Human lung imaging studies with xenon, initially limited by the modest quantity and quality of hyperpolarized gas available, can now be performed with multiliter quantities several times daily. Materials and Methods. The polarizer is a continuolis-flow system capable of producing large quantities of highly-polarized 129Xe through rubidium spin-exchange optical pumping. The low-pressure, high-velocity operating regime takes advantage of the enhancement in the spin exchange rate provided by van der Waals molecules dominating the atomic interactions. The long polarizing column moves the flow of the gas opposite to the laser direction, allowing efficient extraction of the laser light. Separate sections of the system assure full rubidium vapor saturation and removal. Results. The system is capable of producing 64% polarization at 0.3 L/hour Xe production rate. Increasing xenon flow reduces output polarization. Xenon polarization was studied as a function of different system operating parameters. A novel xenon trapping design was demonstrated to allow full recovery of the xenon polarization after the freeze-thaw cycle. Delivery methods of the gas to an offsite MRI facility were demonstrated in both frozen and gas states. Conclusions. We demonstrated a new concept for producing large quantities of highly polarized xenon. The system is operating in an MRI facility producing liters of hyperpolarized gas for human lung imaging studies.



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Academic Radiology



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© 2007 AUR. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.