MRI plays the field with greater strength & speed

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The latest MRI systems are designed with speed and workflow in mind, with coils and structuring designs that can do more with less. New coils enable the systems to scan large portions of the body with just a single coil, and to accomplish this with ever more diverse body shapes and sizes. Thus, these types of improvements are geared towards clinicians and patients. Clinicians get more done, more quickly, and patients don't have to spend as much time in scanners.

And for sure, 3.0 Tesla systems have grown in prominence. For facilities still not sure if they want to invest in 3T, such as one system from Philips introduced as a stepping stone in that direction with options to easily upgrade when the time is right.

And thanks to advances in magnets some systems are able to produce vivid images even with contrast agents, as is the case with Toshiba's systems.

GE Healthcare introduced a non-invasive magnetic resonance (MR) imaging method to assess articular cartilage integrity called CartiGram. It is an optional application available the company's Signa HDx platform, and allows clinicians to non-invasively visualize collagen fiber degradation.

GE also highlighted its Signa High-Density (HD) Head-Neck-Spine MR imaging array which enables users to scan multiple neurology patients or perform series of exams on a single patient without changing coils, shortening procedure time without compromising image quality. The system uses radio frequency technology and an advanced patient- and user-friendly design that places the highest density of coil elements in the imaging field of view to maximize image quality. With 29 elements and 16 channel outputs, the array covers the patient's upper entire body with a single coil, providing high-density signals that directly contribute to optimal and uniform image quality in brain, neck and spine images.  The phased array technology provides higher signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio and capability for parallel imaging, which speeds up scanning.

Hitachi Medical Systems debuted a work-in-progress open MRI scanner called Oasis. The open scanner system has much in common with the company's 1.5 T (Tesla) Echelon system, including the platform and certain coils. The system ó which is pending FDA clearance ó also features a new magnet Hitachi has developed to update and improve its current open MRI systems. Otherwise, the company highlighted its recent Ascent 5.0 software upgrade program for the Altaire and AIRIS II systems. This latest version of Ascent, the operating system software for Altaire, AIRIS II, and AIRIS Elite Open MR systems, will provide benefits in the areas of image quality, workflow and clinical capability. In its standard configuration, Ascent 5.0 provides many features for both Altaire and AIRIS II, including sequence enhancements, like Shared Echo FSE for simultaneous collection of high-quality PD and T2-weighted images, and Gated IR/FIR, which enables free breathing abdominal T1-weighted imaging. Additional new options for Altaire users include Cardio≠Suite, a powerful cardiac imaging package, as well as RAPID parallel imaging software and receiver coils. Ascent 5.0 also offers all platforms the Workflow Plus optional package, a suite of interoperability features enabling conformance with IHE's Scheduled Workflow integration profile.

Philips Achieva XRPhilips Medical Systems demonstrated its new Achieva 3.0T X-series MR system which features a new X-series technology encompassing magnet, gradient and RF advancements. The system includes new software enabling applications such as MSK, multi-vein, as well as a motion correction software option that is pending FDA clearance. Philips Achieva 3.0T X-series also features SmartExam, a tool for one-click planning, scanning and processing that can be reproduced consistently time after time regardless of system operator. The SmartExam application itself has been upgraded, and can now be extended to applications such as the brain, knee, and eventually in 2007 also the spine.

At the show, Philips also announced a new system called the Achieva XR, a 1.5T system that has the same basic look and dimensions as the 3T system. Basically, once available, it will function as a baby step for those not yet ready to invest in 3T. The XR system will allow customers to easily upgrade to 3T when the time comes by replacing the RF coil, Philips said. 

Siemens MAGNETOM AvantoSiemens Medical Solutions introduced Tim (Total imaging matrix) enabled T-class systems for the MAGNETOM Trio, MAGNETOM