Siemens 'opens up' new high-field MR scanner design; debuts 0.35T unit

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Billed as the first "open bore 1.5T MRI system," Siemens Medical Solutions last week rolled out the new Magnetom Espree 1.5 tesla MRI system with an ultra-short magnet bore design. And this week, the vendor introduced the Magnetom C!, a new open 0.35 tesla system.

Siemens is looking for the Magnetom Espree to appeal to the imaging center and hospital markets that seek the good image quality and clinical applications of 1.5T, while offering a "more open" imaging experience for the patient. The system's 70 cm bore (and 125 cm length) allows for 60 percent of exams to be completed with the patient's head outside the bore, said Nancy Gillen, vice president of Siemens' MR division. And the foot of space between the patient's face and top of the bore greatly alleviates patient anxiety of more closed bore designs. The large bore also is more adaptable for patients who are elderly, obese (two-thirds of American adults are overweight and one-third are obese), claustrophobic or children, Gillen pointed out at the launch in New York City on July 29th that kicked off a 15-city road show that will travel around the country through October.

The Magnetom Espree at first sight resembles a CT scanner, having the same bore size as Siemens Sensation CT scanner and being only a foot longer, added Siemens U.S. President Thomas McCausland.

The unit was designed completely in-house by Siemens, in cooperation with Siemens Magnet Technologies (formerly Oxford Magnet), according to Heinrich Kolem, PhD, president of Siemens Magnetic Resonance Division. It provides up to four times more signal-to-noise ratio over traditional open MR sytems, Kolem said, and features Siemens' Total imaging matrix (Tim) whole-body surface coil technology (reducing scan time and increases resolution), which debuted in MR on the Magnetom Avanto 1.5T system at RSNA 2003. The Espree and Avanto also share some surface coils. The patient table moves to 18 inches off the ground and has a capacity of 440 pounds. The system's maximum amplitude is 33 mT/m, maximum slew rate is 100 mT/m and field of view is 45x45x30 cm. Among the list of the Magnetom Espree's applications are: MR angiography, diffusion, pediatrics, oncology, cardiology, functional imaging, breast imaging, whole-body scanning, and spectroscopy.

The system, which received FDA marketing clearance two weeks ago and carries a price tag of $1.5 million, will have its first installation at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., during the first week of September, according to Gillen. To follow in October will be an installation at an imaging center in Madison, Wis., and two other U.S. sites by year's end. Gillen said volume deliveries are slated to begin in February, but orders are currently being taken. Siemens expects about 80 percent of its first-year installs to come from the U.S. market, even though the system will be available globally.

The Magnetom Espree complements Siemens other two 1.5 T scanners, the Avanto which is geared for customers seeking a high performance, high-end system, and Symphony (with an installed base of 2,000, 900 in the U.S.) that targets budget-conscious smaller hospitals. Gillen currently estimates the 1.5T market represents 75 percent of annual MRI sales in the U.S.

For more information on the Magnetom Espree road show, visit www.usa.siemens.com/MRIroadshow or call 888-826-9702.

Siemens other debut is the Magnetom C! compact C-shaped permanent magnet that the company said "meets routine clinical requirements for neurology, orthopedics, angiography, pediatrics, oncology and cardiology."

The magnet has a diameter of 137 cm and is open on three sides. For all except head and neck scans, the patient enters the scanner from a side entry point. The system features Siemens technologies: 2D Pace, PAT, Inline-Technology, syngo and Phoenix protocols.