A new lightweight MRI scanner arrived at the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre (CISC) on Friday 19 August 2022. The scanner operates at a very low magnetic field of 50 millitesla, a field 60 times lower than that of the 3T MRI scanner currently used at CISC for research.
The new scanner is much lighter than its high-field counterpart, weighing a mere 250Kg compared with the hefty 13 tons of the 3T MRI scanner. The scanner is made by Multiwave Imaging SAS, a subsidiary of Swiss group Multiwave Technologies AG. Multiwave Imaging has been working together with Prof Andrew Webb at the Leiden University Medical Center on developing a clinical low field MRI scanner based on Prof Webb’s concepts.
The team at CISC with the new scanner
Professor Itamar Ronen, Academic Director at CISC, says: “Low field MRI has the potential of revolutionising healthcare as it can dramatically increase the accessibility to medical imaging. Furthermore, the scanners are significantly cheaper to purchase and to maintain than MRI scanners at higher fields. Their light weight makes them portable, and the flexible design of their magnets allows for their easy adaptation to scanning particular patient populations or specific body parts. The low magnetic field also removes many of the restrictions that prevent many patients from being scanned in MRI scanners, such as patients with metallic implants.”
It is hoped that low field MRI scanners will provide much needed sustainable solutions for medical imaging in remote areas where the population frequently has no access to medical imaging of any form. Low field MRI scanners could also become part of the GP diagnostic and follow-up toolkit, allowingthemto monitor disease progression and response to treatment, for example in tumours, stroke and multiple sclerosis.
CISC is one of the very first imaging centres in the UK to purchase a low field MRI scanner, with the intention of making low field MRI a central element in its methodological research and development agenda. Research will focus on improving image quality with advanced image analysis and acquisition methods, as well as on developing protocols for providing reliable diagnostic data on patient populations. Clinical data acquired at CISC will help Multiwave Imaging obtain regulatory approval for its portable MRI, thus enabling widespread use of the low field scanner in clinical settings.
The new scanner provides CISC with a unique opportunity to collaborate with researchers across BSMS and the two universities on cutting-edge projects related to image analysis, electrical engineering, system design and a variety of clinical applications. CISC will actively seek links with other medical centres in the UK and abroad, including with hospitals in countries that can benefit from low field MRI through collaboration with Global Health at BSMS.
Find out more about CISC here >