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Special report: MRI innovations are more personalized than ever

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | October 02, 2013
International Day of Radiology 2012
From the October 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The software will be available as an upgrade for Siemens’ Magnetom Avanto 1.5T and Magnetom Verio 3T systems.

But no matter how comfortable an MR may be, no one wants to be in there for long. Speed is another key area of focus for MRI vendors.

“Our system can now do whole body oncology assessments in less than four minutes,” says Paul Folkers, head of global MRI clinical excellence at Philips Healthcare. “And we can do chest, abdomen, pelvis imaging in around 10 seconds. It’s really CT-like speed, with MR contrast.”

Meanwhile, a parallel transmit application from Siemens called ZOOMit allows radiologists to zoom in on small areas of anatomy like a pancreas or prostate gland in order to minimize scan times. Parallel transmit works by giving the user the ability to shape RF pulses according to the application and select a small area instead of a large plane.

“You don’t have to scan tissue that you’re not interested in looking at,” says Stuart Clarkson, senior director MR business unit, at Siemens. “Classically, in MRI, when you’ve made your field of view smaller than your anatomy, you tend to get an artifact called wraparound. Parallel transmit allows us to avoid that in 3T.”

Read with ease
The latest innovations aren’t just benefiting patients. This year, Philips released a suite of software updates that help make life easier for radiologists and technologists. The mDIXON TSE separates water and fat signals that allows for large field of view imaging in challenging areas like the head, neck and spine.

“It’s fast and it gives you a regular contrast image, as well as a very nice uniform image of a very large field of view,” says Philips’ Folkers.

Siemens’ latest MR interface, Dot, is a highly automated interface that helps technologists with tricky procedures.

“For technologists who are not okay with more complicated imaging strategies, like how to do a heart, the scanner will take over and walk them through exactly the scan planes [they] need for a two, three or four chamber view,” says Clarkson.

Dot is also helpful for simpler scans such as spine, for which it automatically sets up the slice lines to angle correctly through the disk spaces. It also adjusts for spinal problems such as scoliosis.

“I think it’s quite a big push for us going forward, to be efficient and to have efficiencies coupled with consistency,” says Clarkson. “The radiologist can rely on the fact that no matter who’s scanning, they’ll get a consistent image.”

Ever since 3T MRI scanners gained FDA approval in the ’90s, the advanced technology has slowly but surely made inroads in the market. In 2011, 3T MRI comprised 10 percent of the installed MRIs and 20 percent of purchases, according to a report from IMV Medical Information Division. With a doubling of the signal to noise ratio, 3T scanners are faster and more powerful than their lower-field counterparts, making them ideal for advanced procedures.

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