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Siemens, UCSF create first carbon-neutral radiology imaging service

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 15, 2021
Artificial Intelligence MRI
Siemens' MAGNETOM Free.Max MR scanner will be used at UCSF to make radiology imaging more ecofriendly
Siemens Healthineers and the University of California, San Francisco have teamed up to create the first carbon-neutral radiology imaging service.

The collaboration is part of an effort to make radiological imaging more eco-friendly, produce better image quality, and create more accessibility to medical imaging in Northern California.

The two will utilize Siemens’ Smart infrastructure solutions to monitor power consumption of radiology equipment at UCSF and research ways to reduce standby energy consumption of MR scanners. They will also use new Siemens scanner technology that is greener, lighter, and smaller, and study ways in which Siemens’ turnkey solutions can be used for eco-friendly imaging.

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Healthcare is estimated to be responsible for up to 5% of global net emissions, with imaging almost certainly contributing to an outsized share of that total, according to Dr. Christopher Hess, professor and chair of the UCSF department of radiology and biomedical imaging. "Green radiology will offer patients the opportunity to participate by choosing imaging resources that lower carbon emissions. We expect that in the years to come, considerations like this will have a larger role in the healthcare choices that patients make," he told HCB News.

The collaboration includes UCSF, Siemens Smart Infrastructure, Siemens AG USA, and Siemens Healthineers. The imaging service will be held at UCSF where reduced power consumption will allow the university to use renewable energy certificates to establish a carbon-neutral imaging fleet. Siemens and UCSF will use smart meters to monitor power usage in a subset of MR units and then extend monitoring to the whole fleet of radiology equipment with metering and monitoring. This will provide clinicians with feedback for reducing power consumption by factoring in downtime and other significant variables of imaging operations.

Additionally UCSF will use advanced, clinical MR technologies developed by Siemens, including the new MAGNETOM Free.Max MR scanner. The first and only 80 cm wide-bore MR system, the MAGNETOM Free.MAX MR scanner uses less than one liter of helium and requires no quench pipe. In addition, the High-V, compact whole-body scanner weighs less than 3.5 tons, has a smaller footprint, easier sitting requirements, 0.55 Tesla field strength, deep learning capabilities and advanced image processing. It was FDA-approved this summer and can be installed in more locations than traditional MR systems due to its smaller size. Its use of less space, less power and helium have the potential to reduce the impact radiology has on climate change.

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