The new MRI device promises to overcome the limitations of traditional scanners and allows doctors to take clear pictures of multiple parts of the body in more people.
Why it matters: MRI is a non-invasive way of displaying soft problems. Unlike some imaging techniques, such as X-rays, which expose patients to radiation, MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves, so it is often preferred when patients need to undergo repeated imaging.
“Radiation doses.” [from X-rays] they accumulate over time and can be harmful, especially for growing children, ”said Orlando Simonetti, director of cardiovascular magnetic resonance research at Ohio State University (OSU).
Call: During MRI, patients usually lie flat inside the tube-shaped scanner. The opening in the tube may be too small to accommodate larger patients, and limited space can sometimes cause anxiety and claustrophobia.
Implanted devices, such as pacemakers, can also interfere with the MRI magnetic field and distort images, and air inside the lungs can make it difficult to obtain a clear image of organs using MRI.
What’s new? OSU researchers have teamed up with Siemens to develop a new MRI machine – the 0.55T MAGNETOM Free.Max – that overcomes many of the shortcomings of its predecessors.
Instead of the standard 23-27-inch hole, the new MRI device has a hole that is almost 32 inches wide – the largest yet.
The Siemens machine also uses a much weaker magnetic field than normal: 0.55 Tesla compared to 1.5 or 3.0 Tesla. According to Simonetti, this should make it easier to get clear images of the lungs and implanted bodies while saving money.
“Moving to a lower field can significantly reduce MRI and installation costs, and with modern scanning and image processing techniques, we can overcome inherent signal loss,” he said.
Other evolutions: The new MRI device has already been approved by the FDA, and several hospital systems – including those operated by OSU and the University of Michigan – have now installed the devices.
“There is no doubt that low field magnetic resonance imaging will play an important role in the future and will become more common,” said Simonetti.
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