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With the latest cutting-edge capabilities, MR enters new diagnostic frontiers

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 17, 2016
From the October 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

MR-guided focused ultrasound
“The beauty that MR brings to the table is that we can measure temperature,” says Jason Launders, director of operations in the health device group at ECRI. “That is what you’re trying to do with focused ultrasound. You are trying to ablate tissue with [heat].”MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRg-FUS) has FDA approval for the treatment of uterine fibroids, bone metastases and prostate cancer. Most recently, it received approval for essential tremor, and Siemens and GE have made sure to offer that to their customers.

InSightec’s Exablate Neuro MRgFUS can be used on GE’s 1.5T and 3T MR systems. In August, InSightec announced an agreement with Siemens to make the Exablate Neuro compatible with Siemens’ MAGNETOM Aera and Skyra MR systems. “The reason MR is used in focused ultrasound treatment is because temperature-sensitive scans can be acquired during the ultrasound treatment,” says Stuart Clarkson, zone business manager for MR at Siemens.

“This effectively shows the clinician where the treatment is being delivered.” Philips also has a presence in the market. In 2010, the company released its MR-guided, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) product called Sonalleve. It can be purchased as an upgrade to an existing MR system and can be used for uterine fibroids, pain management and bone metastases.

Cardiac MR isn’t so difficult anymore
“MR is very technologically demanding on the technologist,” says Launders. “Some technologists understand what’s going on to make those images, but they are few and far between.” In cardiac imaging, the technologist has to understand the physiology of the heart as well as be able to set up the right images and time them with contrast. There are many things that need to happen at the right time.

Some MR manufacturers offer tools to make cardiac MR exams easier for those who aren’t experts. Toshiba’s solution is called CardioLine and it works to simplify and standardize how cardiac exams are performed. CardioLine reconstructs a low-resolution, 3-D model of the heart and uses an atlas to determine the exact location of the heart. Usually when performing a valve shot, clinicians must go through different localizers and planes before they can visualize where the valve might be.

“It’s meant to speed things up. You don’t have to do so many localizers if you are letting a computer determine where the planes are,” says Furuyama. “Some technicians are not as proficient as others at cardiac MR and from what we’ve heard, doctors can tell which technician was doing the scan based on the quality of the exam.”

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