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Ohio State opens up MR imaging for obese, claustrophobic and implant patients

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | December 23, 2021
Cardiology MRI
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center will use Siemens' MAGNETOM Free.Max MR scanner to image patients with implants, claustrophobia and obesity
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has installed a Siemens Healthineers MAGNETOM Free.Max MR scanner. The scanner utilizes a low magnetic field strength of 0.55T to image patients with defibrillators and pacemakers, which would traditionally interfere with the magnetic signal of standard MR systems. Additionally, the scanner is the first and only 80 cm wide-bore system, improving access for obese or claustrophobic patients.

Prior to this, these patients would have to undergo X-ray and CT imaging and risk being overexposed to unnecessary radiation. The solution is expected to be helpful for assessing heart failure, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and even COVID-19, according to Dr. Orlando Simonetti, professor of internal medicine and radiology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

“The new .55T system at OSU is within the Heart and Vascular Center, so the focus will be on cardiovascular imaging specifically. Researchers at OSU are currently optimizing cardiac imaging techniques for this scanner before offering this to clinical patients. The next patient group we expect to benefit from the .55T system will be patients with implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators,” he told HCB News.

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The low-field magnetic field is expected to reduce image artifacts caused by metal in implants. The low-power machine may also provide better image quality. For instance, with lungs, the air in them can cancel out signals at higher field strengths. But with the lower field strength, there is potential to see lung tissue more clearly with MR.

“While lower magnetic fields do reduce the signal available for MR, there are a number of physics advantages as well that help to offset the signal deficit,” said Simonetti. “Furthermore, a large focus of our research here at OSU involves developing methods to overcome the signal loss through the application of advanced strategies for data acquisition, image reconstruction, and image processing.”

In addition to a lower magnetic field and a larger bore, the MAGNETOM Free.Max MR system is equipped with Siemens’ Deep Resolve algorithms for targeted denoising and deep learning to enhance the resolution of images, and also comes with myExam Companion workflow, which leverages AI to help users at all experience levels, regardless of the patient or throughput.

Cleared by the FDA this summer, the solution is capable of running on less than one liter of helium, which reduces infrastructure and life cycle costs, and is expected to increase MR utilization in orthopedic centers, emergency rooms, outpatient centers and even intensive care units. It is also expected to be popular among radiology groups, physician groups, retail healthcare providers, as well as usable in urban and rural areas.

The scanner was recently installed at the University of Michigan Health System and will also be used to help create the first carbon-neutral radiology imaging service at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ohio State plans to study its use on children with congenital heart disease at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The machine is expected to make procedures safer for these patients, who beforehand had to undergo repeated heart catheterizations all their lives. This required them to undergo X-ray imaging to guide small metal wires, thereby exposing them to radiation each time such a procedure was performed.

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