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The advantages of lightweight and durable coils

Medical imaging exams often require the aid of certain aspects or techniques for imaging. For positron emission tomography, a radio-pharmaceutical is used that exposes the patient to ionizing radiation. For magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the technologist may position the patient with devices called coils that receive the signal emitted by the patients body throughout the scan. Additionally, some MRI scans may require contrast that does not contain ionizing radiation. In recent years, the coils that are used to image patients using MRI have undergone some changes that may improve the experience for the technologist and patient alike.

Signal homogeneity

When conducting imaging studies using MRI, the technologist may need to adjust the field of view (FOV). The goal of these adjustments is to change the window width (WW) and the window level (WL) to change the image's contrast and brightness.

However, new coils using flexible wires may change this. These coils can be wrapped around the patient, rather than sitting further away from the region of interest (ROI). This may improve the signal-to-noise ratio, as well as increasing the resolution. This may help to create a more homogeneous signal throughout the FOV. After receiving these new coils, Professor Masatoshi Hori from the Osaka University Hospital in Suita, Osaka, Japan, and his team believe their expectations for higher resolution and signal-to-noise were surpassed.1

Professor Hori states,1 "Sometimes we needed different WW/WL adjustments so we could clearly see the anatomy between the center and the edge of the FOV to make a diagnosis. Now, we no longer need to make this change in most patients."

Patient positioning

Alongside the new coils, Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, recently invested in a new software solution that uses landmarks within the patient's body to provide information on how to scan the patient.2 As a result, the technologist may be able to reduce the amount of time they spend with the patient that does not involve scanning. Sita Ramman, an MR radiographer at Erasmus Medical Center, states that with the new technology they can put their new coils on the patient, localize using the new software and position the patient within the scanner.2

"We don't need to do any calibration as it is done automatically. This makes a difference in our daily routine, because it takes less time to position a patient," Sita Ramman explains.2

Region of interest

Imaging a patient often requires detail on a larger ROI than originally expected. This may be due to suspected metastases in cancer or pain that spans a wide range of the body. Traditionally imaging for abnormalities in multiple areas required the repositioning of the coil or the patient or both, which may reduce the time for imaging.3 For example, when imaging specific body areas for lesions, such as the liver or kidneys, it is not uncommon to find a lesion in another area. The flexible, durable coils that were released in 2018 could help lead to higher efficiency and more productive exams.3

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Patient comfort

The new, more flexible coils help the patient as well as the technologist.3 For the patient, having the scan done may be the most important thing. However, an uncomfortable surface coil or process may cause issues when the patient is trying to lie still for any period of time.

Patients who are emergent or experience chronic pain may struggle more than others. This could be especially true in patients with broken bones that alter the traditional shape of a joint or appendage. The flexibility of the recent coil technology could allow the technologist to wrap the coil around the injured body part.

Patients may also find lightweight, flexible, durable coils more comfortable than traditional rigid coils. This may be due to the flexibility of the coil or to the lighter weight. Rigid coils are often heavier than the latest generation of coils. Dr. Utaroh Motosugi from the University of Yamanashi Hospital in Yamanashi, Japan, found that patient comfort may be important to the radiology department.3

"Surprisingly, the first patient we scanned with a [new c]oil said, 'Why is it so comfortable today?' A comfortable examination for the patient is obviously a key benefit," Dr. Utaroh Motosugi observed.3

Technologists and radiology departments may see a change while imaging their patients. The increased signal homogeneity and signal-to-noise ratio due to the latest generation of coils may improve the images that are obtained. Patient positioning may become easier with the new software that may accompany the flexible, lightweight coils. Patients may also be more comfortable with the use of these new coils, possibly improving the experience for technologists and patients.

References:

  1. An upgrade that meets the expectation for higher resolution, SNR and productivity. SIGNA Pulse of MR. http://www.gesignapulse.com/signapulse/spring_2019/MobilePagedArticle.action?articleId=1488816&app=false#articleId1488816. Last accessed October 29, 2019.
  2. AIR Technology: a brilliant improvement in high-quality imaging and patient comfort. SIGNA Pulse of MR. http://www.gesignapulse.com/signapulse/spring_2019/MobilePagedArticle.action?articleId=1488814&app=false#articleId1488814. Last accessed October 29, 2019.
  3. A lighter, more flexible and comfortable way to scan. SIGNA Pulse of MR. http://www.gesignapulse.com/signapulse/autumn_2018/MobilePagedArticle.action?articleId=1444517. Last accessed October 29, 2019.

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The AIR™ family of flexible RF Coils was awarded Best New Radiology Device for the 2019 edition of the Minnies, AuntMinnie.com's campaign to recognize the best and brightest in medical imaging. The Minnies have been recognizing excellence in radiology for the past 20 years, with categories ranging from Most Influential Radiology Researcher to Best New Radiology Device. Minnies awards are made based on nominations from AuntMinnie.com members, with winners selected through two rounds of voting by a panel of radiology luminaries and AuntMinnie.com editors.

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