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Superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles can be used in medical applications like vascular or targeted imaging. Magnetic particle imaging (MPI) is a promising tomographic imaging technique that allows visualizing the 3D nanoparticle distribution concentration in a non-invasive manner. The two main strengths of MPI are high temporal resolution and high sensitivity. While the first has been proven in the assessment of dynamic processes like cardiac imaging, it is unknown how far the detection limit of MPI can be lowered. Within this work, we will present a highly sensitive gradiometric receive-coil unit combined with a noise-matching network tailored for the imaging of mice. The setup is capable of detecting 5 ng of iron in-vitro with an acquisition time of 2.14 sec. In terms of iron concentration we are able to detect 156 μg/L marking the lowest value that has been reported for an MPI scanner so far. In-vivo MPI mouse images of a 512 ng bolus and a 21.5 ms acquisition time allow for capturing the flow of an intravenously injected tracer through the heart of a mouse. Since it has been rather difficult to compare detection limits across MPI publications we propose guidelines to improve the comparability of future MPI studies.
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