Q&A: Aspect Imaging CEO sees big potential in smaller MRI machines

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Aspect Imaging, a design and manufacturer of MRI systems, has developed an MRI machine that is more compact than many contemporary machines.

In an exclusive interview with Clinical Innovation & Technology, CEO and founder Uri Rapoport speaks more about Aspect Imaging, its products, the company's manufacturing process and where imaging is headed in the future.

Clinical Innovation & Technology: What challenges do you face making MRI machines more portable/compact?

Uri Rapoport: It took us over 7 years of research and development to achieve our design and unique know-how capabilities to be able to do what we do. This is a result of many years of dedicated, intensive research, coupled with vast experience, produced through an exceptionally skilled, efficient and effective process of specialized engineering. ... The only challenge we face is educating the market that our permanent magnet-based MRI systems give the same image quality as conventional MRI systems, which are based on superconducting technology.

Is convenience and/or portability more important than cost? How do those considerations relate to one another?

What we have actually achieved is the combination of both portability and cost effectiveness to the industry. Our MRI systems mean that compact MRI is now accessible to all. They are cost-effective to run and are available at a fraction of the price of a conventional MRI system.

How important of a step is FDA approval? What does this mean for your short-term planning?

FDA approval is a must for all of our medical products. Without FDA approval, it is impossible to sell our products in the U.S. We have already received CE approval which enables us to sell in the European Union. But still, receiving FDA approval will be of tremendous assistance in selling all our other products to the medical market, and not just in the US.

Where do you see this technology going in the coming years?

Once—not so many years ago—if you wanted high-quality laser printing, you had to go to a professional printer, unless you could afford the prohibitive cost of buying your own. Today, these machines are available for everyone and found in many households.

We have a similar vision for our compact MRI systems. Just imagine how much precious time can be saved by swiftly diagnosing a wide range of conditions right there in the physician’s office or in the community healthcare center, without having to wait months for a hospital appointment and having to undergo a costly, stressful full-body scan.

From the emergency room to the neonatal unit to the local clinic—[these systems could mean] life-saving, time-saving and money-saving technology, on-hand, online, all the time.