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

Standardizing protocols
Many hospitals are interested in standardizing their MR protocols, but it’s a very difficult task depending on certain factors. In any given hospital there could be a mixture of 3T and 1.5T MR systems with different gradient strengths. “It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s something that people are trying to do because hospitals want to be able to put a patient in any scanner in their system and get the same image out, regardless of what scanner they put them in,” says Launders.

It’s easy to standardize protocols if all of the MR scanners are from the same manufacturer, but that’s usually not the case. To copy the protocol from a Siemens MR to a GE MR is complicated because the nomenclature is completely different. “A lot of our larger customers can sometimes have so many scanners in so many different locations, but are on different software platforms or different vendors,” says Siemens’ Clarkson. “It’s always been quite challenging.”

Siemens is hoping protocols can be delivered from a central location to all of the scanners in the hospital. That will help save money because the clinicians won’t have to travel to each of the remote facilities, which is the traditional approach. For example, if a radiologist switches from doing 3-millimeter slices to 2-millimeter slices, that can be centrally broadcast to all of the Siemens scanners without requiring someone to go to each individual scanner. “The idea for that centralization is to homogenize the imaging technology across the fleet of [Siemens’] MR scanners,” says Siemens’ Clarkson.

Compact MR
GE and the Mayo Clinic worked together to develop a compact MR system that’s about one-third the size of a conventional MR and only requires a fraction of the liquid helium to operate. Unlike conventional systems, the patient’s arms and torso can be completely out of the magnet. “The idea was to take some advanced technology that’s there and deliver a highly accessible, high-performance 3T system for brain imaging that would give us better image quality than what you currently get in a whole body system,” says Eric Stahre, president and CEO of GE Healthcare MR.

Since 30 percent of all procedure volumes are head and neck exams, Stahre felt it was worth pursuing a dedicated system that could take up that procedure volume and do it in a more effective way. The system is also intended to be used for small extremities such as wrists, feet and ankles. Early this year, it was installed at Mayo’s downtown campus in Rochester, Minnesota.

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