MRI gaining strength and applications
Improving the performance of magnetic resonance imaging systems and broadening applications and algorithms are the focus of many vendors' new products and enhancements at this year's RSNA. Look for vendors to offer up tools to improve the detail and accuracy of MR, as well as upping clinical efficiency. More powerful technologies also are on the rise with a number of vendors planning to display their latest in 3.0 Telsa systems.

GE Healthcare (Booth #7730) is announcing three new additions to its Signa HD product family: the Signa HDx 1.5T, Signa HDx 3.0T and Signa HDe 1.5T.

Both the Signa HDx 1.5T and HDX 3.0T include new technologies such as 32-channel architecture, ultra-fast reconstruction algorithms, and advancements in parallel imaging and new acquisition strategies. Other enhancements include PROPELLER motion-resistant brain, VIBRANT breast, LAVA XV body imaging, and TRICKS time-resolved angiography. Signa HDx 1.5T technology upgrades will be available to GE's Signa 1.5T installed base customers.  

GE also is showcasing the Signa HDe 1.5T, a brand- new system designed for customers needing a small installation footprint and a quick return on investment (ROI) without a loss in image quality. Signa HDe 1.5T is built for outpatient imaging centers, satellite hospital locations, offices or settings needing a limited footprint. Signa HDe supports many GE signature applications and is available in both 4- and 8-channel configurations.

Hitachi Medical Corporation (booth #7137) is showcasing the Altaire High-Field Performance Open MR system, which employs superconducting technology to generate a 0.7T field strength with extremely high homogeneity. Its high-power, high-slew rate gradients are competitive with traditional high-field systems. AIRIS Elite Advanced Mid-Field Open MR combines mid-field performance with higher-order active shim technology, high homogeneity and sophisticated sequence capabilities.

MEDRAD (Booth #4529) is highlighting its endorectal coil for MR prostate imaging at 3.0T. The 3.0T Endorectal Prostate Coil enables urologists to get precise and accurate images for diagnosing and treating a wide variety of ailments and can assist in the diagnosis and staging of prostate cancer. The coil's small field-of-view (FOV) and high spatial resolution, sensitivity, and specificity result in clear pictures of the prostate. Its ability to nestle up to the prostate and get closer to the problem helps clinicians get closer to the solution. The coil also is available for 1.5T systems.

Philips Medical Systems (Booth #1129) is unveiling new imaging techniques for the company's Achieva 3.0T, Achieva 1.5T and Panorama 1.0T systems aimed at delivering faster, easier MR imaging with new levels of image detail. Specific benefits of the techniques include faster cardiac MR, higher-resolution 4D contrast-enhanced MR angiography, improvements in whole-body diffusion imaging, and easier exam planning for optimized workflow.

Philips also is launching enhancements to its NetForum online MR community initiative where users can access support and services worldwide. NetForum can be found at

Finally, Philips is announcing its commercial offering for the routine Ambient Experience MR suite that combines Philips imaging, lightening and design features.

Midwest RF is displaying its Radiation Oncology MRI Head Array Coil (ROH), an 8-element array coil designed for patients with thermoplastic immobilization masks. The company recently received FDA marketing clearance for the coil. The product will be available for review at two partner booths, Newmatic Sound Systems (Booth #7100) and Supertech (Booth #1906).

Resonance Technology Company Inc. (Booth #7353) is introducing a range of features to its CinemaVision audio-video entertainment system as well as the new FuncLAB functional MRI system with fully automated image data processing.

New for CinemaVision is a lightweight headset that integrates video display and audio systems into a single unit designed. The headset delivers a resolution of 240,000 pixels for each of the two displays. It provides quality digital stereo sound with a passive noise-attenuation technology and an intercom for ongoing communication between patient and technologist. The entire headset fits within the MRI coil. The company also is introducing to CinemaVision a range of features providing enhanced flexibility for users.

The new FuncLAB is a functional MRI add on for clinical practices and academic applications. FuncLAB combines a complete functional imaging task presentation component featuring 3D graphics and sound capabilities with a fully automated data processing component. The fMRI data processor server attaches to the department network. Functional and anatomical images are automatically sent in DICOM format from the MRI system to the processor. No manual intervention is needed. After identifying and associating the data to a specific study and sensory task, the system processes the information. The resulting brain maps of anatomy fused with functional results are available onsite and over the web through a browser-based interface.

Siemens Medical Solutions (Booth #4337) is showcasing its latest MRI innovations at 1.5T and 3T field strengths at RSNA. The MAGNETOM Trio, the first system capable of 3 Tesla (3T) whole-body MRI with Tim (Total imaging matrix) provides clinical applications such as abdominal, cardiac, spine, whole-body and orthopedic. The MAGNETOM Espree is an open bore 1.5T MRI system which offers more room than the traditional MRI, making it able to adequately address issues related to obesity, claustrophobia, elderly and pediatric patients, while capturing high-field quality diagnostic images.

Tim is a seamless, whole body surface coil design that combines up to 102 seamlessly integrated coil elements with up to 32 RF channels. Tim technology enables flexible coil combinations to encompass local high-resolution imaging to large anatomical coverage up to 182 cm (6 feet), while other systems require the technologist to change coils and reposition the patient three times for a whole body MRI procedure. As a result of Tim, image quality is increased by up to 100 percent by a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and acquisition times are shortened, Siemens says.

Toshiba America Medical Systems (Booth #7114) is highlighting its Vantage 1.5T system, the company's latest high-field MRI equipped with an ultra-short magnet. Key features include a 1.4 meter magnet; 65.5 cm patient aperture; 30 mT/m gradients with slew rates of 50 T/m/s, 86 T/m/s or 130 T/m/s, 200 T/m/s WIP; the highest homogeneity of any ultra-short bore; SPEEDER, a parallel imaging technique using multiple dedicated RF elements in combination for advantages in imaging speed and increase in SNR; PIANISSIMO allows up to 90 percent noise reduction and improves patient comfort; and a patient observation system which includes a CRT display at the technologist's console for patient monitoring from both ends of the magnet, amongst other features, according to the company.

Toshiba also is displaying its Ultra 0.35T open MRI system featuring 25mT/m amplitude and 100mT/m/sec slew rate for ultra-fast, high-resolution imaging on a mid-field open system. Highlighted features include SSEPI for assessment of strokes, tumors and vascular disorders; SSFP fast sequence for high-contrast spine imaging; dark blood fast breath-hold technique for evaluating cardiovascular structures; MR angiography detailed high-quality images of blood vessels without contrast materials; and WFS that offers high-resolution uniform suppression consistent with contrast studies.