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Philips debuts first helium-free mobile MR scanner at RSNA

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 29, 2023
Mobile Imaging MRI
Philips' BlueSeal MR Mobile unit
At this year’s Radiological Society of North America Annual Conference, Philips unveiled the world’s first helium-free mobile MR scanner, equipped with its BlueSeal magnet technology, the company's key component for reducing its reliance on helium.

Outpatient radiology and oncology solutions provider Akumin, the recipient of the first BlueSeal MR Mobile unit, showcased the 1.5T fully-sealed magnet scanner, which is loaded with seven liters of liquid helium when first installed, instead of the traditional 1,500 liters, and never again requires refills, saving on downtime and cost.

According to Philips, the solution can be set up in places where traditional mobile MR units cannot be, such as near a hospital’s main entrance, making MR imaging procedures more accessible for patients.
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Philips released its BlueSeal magnet technology in 2018 as a component of its Ingenia Ambition X 1.5T MR scanner. The magnet has no venting pipe, making scanners lighter and more agile in terms of where they can be placed.

"The model in the mobile unit on the show floor here at RSNA is the Ambition S, but the entire helium-free portfolio from Philips can be placed in the Mobile unit," Ruud Zwerink, general manager of MR at Philips, told HCB News.

These solutions include the company's Ingenia Ambition 1.5T and MR5300 systems, says Zwerink.

The mobile scanner also connects to Philips’ multivendor, multimodality, virtual imaging system Radiology Operations Command Center, which securely connects technologists to remote imaging experts in real time via audio, video, and peer-to-peer text chat capabilities.

Philips is investing in a number of ways to develop superconductive magnets that can operate at higher temperatures without the need for liquid helium, a finite natural resource produced as a byproduct of fossil fuel (natural gas) extraction and vented out into the atmosphere. These scanners would theoretically be smaller, lighter, and less expensive, making MR imaging more accessible, especially in underserved communities.

Last December, it partnered with MagCorp, a private company founded by Florida State University’s MagLab, part of the U.S. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, on this endeavor.

The BlueSeal MR Mobile unit is only available for sale in the U.S.

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