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High-quality imaging and patient comfort

New technology can cause shifts in the way people do things. The staff at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, knows how important it is for medical facilities to stay up to date on technology and enhance patient care. They recently invested in a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system and coils for their facility. These new coils and the computer programs that were installed have improved MRI for specialty care, as well as its image quality, patient comfort and durability.

Specialty care and the importance of image quality1

One of the physicians at Erasmus, Dr. Alexander Hirsch, places importance on image quality for his studies. As a cardiologist that specializes in non-invasive cardiac imaging, he must have excellent image quality. In particular, myocardial delayed enhancement (MDE) MR sequences that are used to scan patients for myocardial viability rely on image quality. Some coils, including the department's new anterior array coil, that have been released recently can help him to improve the image quality by creating a more homogeneous (or uniform) signal, as well as highlighting the contrast between blood and myocardium.

Muskuloskeletal (MSK) imaging has also benefited from Erasmus's new coils. Dr. Edwin Oei, a Professor of Musculoskeletal Imaging and the Section Chief of Musculoskeletal Radiology at Erasmus Medical Center, and Jean Paul Laarhoven, an MR radiographer, have both seen a significant shift in imaging because of these coils.

Dr. Oei notes that MSK imaging traditionally tends to suffer from artifacts or distortions, as well as movement, more than any other areas of the bodies. This is partly due to difficulties with positioning patients due to their injury or ailment. MSK imaging of certain body parts also has traditionally relied on using the right coil for the body part being imaged. For example, imaging the knee used to require a specialized knee coil. However, with the newer coils, Dr. Oei can position his patients easier due to the flexibility and durability of the coil. A specialized software designed to work with the corresponding coils has decreased the need for precise positioning of the region of interest by using an automated selection system. The two combined have led to a high imaging performance.

Jean Paul Laarhoven has noticed an improvement in head and brain imaging with the new head coil at Erasmus. The coil is designed with the ability to adjust the coil for larger-sized heads and necks, increasing the range of use to accommodate a wider variety of patients. Patients with claustrophobia and anxiety have a better tolerance for it, because the front part of the coil is slightly smaller and does not cover the patient's entire face.

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Increasing patient comfort with improved durability1

Many facilities have experienced the transition to a more patient-friendly and patient-centric healthcare system. This has been driven by the drive for precision medicine and imaging. Like many facilities, Erasmus Medical Center has found ways to accommodate more patients. One way that they accomplish this is by using more flexible, durable and comfortable magnetic resonance coils.

The new coils used by Dr. Hirsch and his team are designed to fit all patients, allow for flexibility in any direction and can closely wrap around the patient's anatomy. Each of these aspects can help the radiographer to improve signal quality, as well as the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), because of the coil's proximity to the patient. The closer proximity of the coil, enabled by its flexibility, can help to reduce imaging artifacts compared to the previous generations of coils. Brendan Bakker, an MR radiographer who helped develop cardiac MR (CMR) protocols with Dr. Hirsch for the medical center, also noticed an improvement with the anterior array coil. This new coil is easy to handle and lightweight, while providing good quality for cardiac imaging.

Sita Ramman, another MR radiographer at Erasmus Medical Center, adds that the coils have made a noticeable difference in patient comfort due to not only their lightweight and flexible nature, but also due to their ability to mold to the patient's anatomy. The intelligent localization and selection tool enables the technologist to landmark the patient with one touch, optimizing element configuration and reducing the time needed for patient positioning.

Juan Hernandez Tamames is an Associate Professor of MR and the Head of the MR Physics group in the radiology department who believes that the new coils and technology has the potential to increase the acceleration of the scans. This can be done while using diffusion-weighted imaging while accelerating with parallel imaging or compressed sensing due to the increased signal resultant from the proximity of the coils.

The team at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, has led the charge toward precision imaging with the acquisition of new technology and coils. With the flexible, lightweight and durable coils, they have seen increased patient comfort and improved SNR. As technology has changed, the center is now equipped with some of the more recent developments in the field.

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References:

  1. AIR Technology: a brilliant improvement in high-quality imaging and patient comfort. SIGNA Pulse of MR. http://www.gesignapulse.com/signapulse/spring_2019/MobilePagedReplica.action?pm=2&folio=32#pg32. Last accessed July 30, 2019.