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An MRI upgrade that meets the expectation for high resolution, SNR and productivity

At Osaka University Hospital, previously Osaka Medical School, in Suita, Osaka, Japan, the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) department adopts new and advanced technology to promote patient-centered, high-quality, safe and reliable care. The latest innovative technology for the hospital came with the introduction of a new anterior array coil designed to be lightweight, flexible and durable, as well as an altogether new scanner.

Masatoshi Hori, Associate Professor with the Department of Radiology, experiences the benefits of the hospital's new technology first hand. The facility expected the coil, as well as its new MR scanner, to provide a higher resolution, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and temporal resolution.

The new generation of magnetic resonance coils

Professor Hori believes the new anterior array coil is one of the biggest innovations he has seen in the last decade. This particular innovation exceeded the hospital's expectations in many ways. For one thing, the coils are more lightweight than he expected, which may lead to a better experience for patients.

Conventional coils are often rigid and designed for the average-sized patients. Because of this rigidity, patients who are taller, larger may not be able to be scanned with these coils. Technologists at Osaka University Hospital have reported that both patient and coil set-up is easier. This is because the coil fits many shapes and sizes of patients, which is a great improvement from conventional arrays.

The ability of the new coils to fit more patients comes from the flexibility of the coils themselves. The coils can wrap around the area of the body being imaged, which puts them closer to the anatomy. As a result, the signal intensity may increase, leading to a higher SNR. Ultimately, the higher signal may lead to a better quality image.

Enhancing advanced techniques

The new technology being used at the hospital may also increase the acceleration ability of parallel imaging with the coil element configuration and lower g-factor of the new coils. This enhancement is regularly used by Professor Hori. Combined with a free-breathing technique that tracks the respiratory motion in the body, the facility's abdominal scans have benefited from the new technology. In one case, Professor Hori was able obtain good contrast of the endometrium and junctional zone without motion artifacts. When compared to a conventional anterior array, the new anterior array combined with a new uniform correction application could lead to higher image quality and better uniformity in many clinical cases and contrasts.1

One fast spin echo technique optimized for isotropic imaging can perform thin-slice imaging, as small as 1-2 mm slices of 3D imaging. This is done by modifying the traditional fast spin echo technique to scan at specific voxels in the range of a small space in each direction.2 The images can then be reformatted with equal resolution. The thin slices help to provide an understanding of capsular invasion, impacting patient management and treatment options.1

These techniques alongside the new anterior array coils have exceeded the expectations of Osaka University Hospital and their radiology department. Not only does the increased flexible and lightweight nature of the coils improve the patient experience, but the coils also have the possibility to increase SNR and resolution. When combined with certain advanced techniques, including acceleration and motion correction techniques, the scans could help to inform the patient's physician. The physicians in turn could create a more precise, personalized approach to healthcare.

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References:

  1. An upgrade that meets the expectation for higher resolutions, SNR and productivity. http://www.gesignapulse.com/signapulse/spring_2019/MobilePagedArticle.action?articleId=1488816&app=false#articleId1488816. Last accessed August 1, 2019.
  2. 3D-Fast Spin Echo: What are the SPACE/CUBE/VISTA techniques? MRIQuestions.comhttp://mriquestions.com/spacecubevista.html. Last accessed August 1, 2019.