Toshiba shows present and future of MR systems

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Toshiba America Medical Systems announced at RSNA 2006 last week that the Food and Drug Administration has cleared for market its new EXCELART Vantage powered by Atlas 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system. The company also displayed several works-in-progress systems including a 3T MRI and a 1.5 T system with an elliptical bore.

The Vantage Atlas 1.5T MRI system features a complete redesign of the system. The new 128-element system can deliver high-resolution images across the entire body with faster imaging times. The new Atlas system design is an integrated coil concept that will allow clinicians to perform multiple exams without repositioning the patient. This will mean more comfortable exam experiences and will result in enhanced workflow and technologist productivity. Also, the system’s optional 205-cm acquisition range allows for feet-first imaging for the entire body, excluding the neck and head. Other specific features include:

  • A 16-channel system;
  • New coils include: a body coil that can slide; a head coil; and vascular coil;
  • The system includes coils that plug into the table;
  • The capability to perform whole-body non-contrast agent imaging;
  • The system’s new computer doubles the system’s computing power, enabling faster reconstructions;

“Speed and ease of use are the biggest benefits of this system,” said Bob Giegerich, director, MR Business Unit, Toshiba. And many of these benefits are delivered by the system’s new coils which mean that less positioning is required. Workflow is essential because “everything is about workflow because everyone’s reimbursements are being cut,” added Giegerich.

The Vantage offers a number of optional packages for cardiac imaging, including advanced Echo Planar Imaging, Diffusion and Perfusion Imaging, Peripheral Angiography and Fresh Blood Imaging, SuperFASE (Fast Advanced Spin Echo) Imaging and Body Vision. In addition, Toshiba’s SPEEDER parallel imaging allows for increased acquisition speed and reduced examination times. With Toshiba's patented Pianissimo technology, the Vantage reduces acoustic noise, to minimize patient discomfort, the company said.

One key advantage of the Toshiba systems, Giegerich said, is the design of the magnet. The systems have “seven different discreet ways to gather non-contrast images.”

As for systems in the pipeline, Toshiba showcased its EXCELART Vantage Plus powered by Atlas – a works-in-progress 1.5T large bore system. The Vantage Atlas Plus’ elliptical large bore design has been developed to grant patients more room during an MRI exam. The system also provides an expanded field-of-view (FOV) at up to 55cm – allowing clinicians to capture high-quality images across the entire bore.

The company’s elliptical bore is costly to produce, Giegerich said, and so the purpose of bringing the system to RSNA was to gauge interest.

Also on display was another work-in-progress system, a Vantage 3T MR based on the EXCELART Vantage platform. The new 3T system includes new magnet design and short-bore combination that deliver the high homogeneity customers expect from Toshiba’s line of MR technologies. The 3T system will be powered by the company’s Atlas technology. The new system also features Toshiba’s noise reduction system as with the others.

Higher spatial resolution at 3T and short acquisition times are big benefits. Toshiba’s 3T MR system will include whole-body imaging and spectroscopy that will more aggressively capture information not obtainable with 1.5T MR systems.